I started writing this blog on the flight to Christchurch. I intended to write fast, as things happened, on a 4 day visit to my home town. It was easy at first, when I had time to wander and play stranger in a strange land. But then I started catching up with friends. Devouring the experience rather than commenting on it.
Once back onto the treadmill of Wellington I started posting a section each week. But life took over. And there was still more to say. More images to share. Then working through the rush of Christmas, and then two weeks away in a caravan, attempting to relax and unwind the tightened coil of the uncertain purgatory I had returned to.
It’s now 2016. My holiday is over. I am back at work, (hopefully) free of the stress that saw me make unprecedented cock-ups, and receive a call from my manager enquiring about my health/life.
I have relaxed. But I am still living with the uncertainty that greeted my return from Christchurch.
That week I received the report on my fiction portfolio from Victoria University. It was a strong selection of stories. Better than I have ever written. NZ$2,600 well spent (on fiction and creative non-fiction).
I was confident they may well get me accepted onto the MA fiction programme (one of the best regarded fiction programmes in the world). It is the third time I have applied. There are only 10 places.
The trip to Chch was as much reward for my hard work as distraction from the impending result. I wanted to do all the things I have mentioned in the previous posts but I also wanted to escape the imminent decision on my future. The day it turned up (report and MA decision) a massive cold sore erupted from my bottom lip; the first since the death of my father 3 years ago.
Uncertainty. Stress. Acceptance of loss. Understanding the past. Desire for a new future. All these played into my 4 days in Chch.
The day before I headed to Chch I received a wonderful package from Scotland. A trove of several hundred slides taken on a world trip by my grandfather Sandy’s sister, Rachel, in 1968. It’s a wonderful trove I am yet to explore. She came out to NZ just after I was born. I grew up hearing stories of the visit. Fortuitously, the slides are meticulously indexed. Often still in order.
I have used several in the posts but I am yet to find the time to go through them all as slides aren’t that easy to view or transfer. But I will. Amongst the few I have looked at I found a picture of Aunty Rachel with my grandparents, Sandy and Flo’, standing on the banks of the Avon with Aunty Lynette and my cousin Robyn. Treasure from the past.
I could say much more about Chch. The wonderful art on the streets. The NZ flag flying everywhere at a time when the country is being offered a dubious new flag.
How happy I felt seeing the statue of Godley (the visionary leader of the settlement) back on his plinth for the first time post-quake. How I sat every day listening to the resolute balladeer outside Ballantynes belting out ballads, rocking back and forth as if on a boat, eyes closed, tin whistle in hand. How amongst the 19th century tales he sang the wonderfully cheesy 1960s/70s song I have only heard once before, about a man in prison who will never see his home again.
Christchurch City is mighty pretty, when the lights are all a-glow
Christchurch City is mighty pretty, where the river Avon flows
I did not get accepted for the MA. But I have been shortlisted. At any moment before March I may be offered a place if someone can’t take it.
The fate of the decaying carcass of Christchurch Cathedral was to be decided just before Christmas. The Anglican Church wants to pull it down but doesn’t have the guts. Or enough support.
I’m not sure how I feel about any of this. Conflicted and uncertain. Certainly. Positives and negatives both ways.
What does the future hold? Uncertainty. Again. And again.
But there will be holidays. And I will write about them.
And I shall keep writing fiction.
We passed through Christchurch in 2011 on a trip that led to my own blog. It broke our hearts to see photos of the earthquake eleven days later on TV. It is sad to see the picture of the “decaying carcass” but your post brings back pleasant memories of the city nonetheless.
Hi, thanks for commenting. Yes, it’s a different place now, full of change. Makes it kind of refreshing and exciting amongst the bits of sadness.