Trying to gather my thoughts and feelings and write coherently about them is a bit like trying to take a family selfie in front of the Christchurch Art Gallery. I thought it would be easy, but it's not.
I lived in Christchurch for about 9 years. It was the first city I'd lived in and the first I got to know and love.
Christchurch is where I met my husband. Our first date included a trip to the art gallery, but not this one, the old one.
Our second date was to the movies in the Arts Centre. My car was parked very close to where those sculptures outside the new art gallery are now. It was probably about there that I realised the guy I'd just met might be "the one".
I brought my first house in Christchurch. Soon after the guy I'd only recently met moved in with me. I made my first garden, and we did our first renovations together. We got our first cat from the SPCA.
We moved from Christchurch two years later, and headed to Wellington for new jobs. I always enjoyed trips back, to old familiar haunts, shops, cafes, op shops. I could even still manage to navigate myself around the unique one-way road system.
But now when I return I wander disorientated and disbelieving. So much has gone, so much has changed its hard to get one's bearings, to remember what used to be there. It's so sad. So many people have been affected.
Things have changed a bit since our last visit in September last year. More buildings have been demolished, and the cordon area has been moved. New Regent Street has just "re-opened". But apart from people walking about in hi-viz gear there are not many others on the streets, just a few "tourists" like us. Walking about trying to take it all in.
These last two photos are from the Sept 2012 visit, as the Bridge of Remembrance is now surrounded by scaffolding and re-construction.
There is more public art than there used to be. But there needs to be.
Over two years later there are still stark reminders, of the day the world changed for this wonderful city and its people.
Driving home through the beauty of North Canterbury I told the kids not to let this put them off living in Christchurch. On the other hand I feel glad that we no longer live there, that we haven't had to go through what the people of Christchurch have had to endure. I don't know how I would have coped. I don't know how they cope. My heart goes out to Christchurch and its people.