When we read in the paper that AMI was going to be contacting all their Chch customers, we just knew that they would ring while we were on holiday. Sure enough, less than an hour after arriving in Auckland, we got a phone call. As we were right in the middle of doing all the paperwork for the campervan we're hiring (oh, how middle-aged is that!), we decided to call the insurance company back the next day.
So Friday was a happy day... not only were we far away from all the shaking (or so we thought), but we finally had confirmation that our house is coming down. Yes, after 10 months of waiting we finally have the official word that our house is not worth repairing and will be demolished. Halle-fooking-lujah!! We have been living in fear that the insurance company would turn around and say 'it's not that bad, we think we can fix it' so to actually have the demolition notice is an incredible weight off our minds. We went out to Lone Star in Newmarket to celebrate with a big ol' plate of food and a couple of drinks.
In the taxi on the way back to the ASB Showgrounds we heard a news report on the radio that Auckland had experienced an earthquake - a massive 2.9 off Mission Bay. We did what any Cantab would have done in the circumstances - we laughed & sniggered all the way back to the venue. 2.9... wow... big whoop... and no, we didn't feel it. I mean, come on Aucklanders - a truck going past makes more vibrations than that!! Especially if you're living in a C-city house with broken piles or foundations, and if that's the case, even a fast-driving Mini would make the place rattle.
So now many Aucklanders are claiming a sense of solidarity, of kinship & shared experience with their Southern cousins. Oh puh-lease. Look, I understand that an earthquake can be an unsettling thing, even more so when it happens in an area that is not used to them. I also understand why it would be news - Auckland just doesn't get earthquakes very often... I think there's more chance of one of the volcanic cones blowing up than the ground shaking round here. But seriously? Come on people- one little tiny earthquake off the coast of Auckland cannot possibly give you an understanding of what us Cantabs are going through, and have been going through since September.
"State of emergency declared in Auckland after 2.9 earthquake disturbs glasses of pinot and causes machiatos to spill over cup tops."
"It wasn't an earthquake Auckland - the taniwha just farted."
By comparison, Shakeytown has been eerily quiet for a couple of days - about 30 hours without a shake, until the Canterbury alarm clock went off again at 6.42 this morning. We get worried down there when the ground goes quiet... after all, we had previously experienced periods of stability just before the big shakes in February and June.
Tomorrow it will be 10 months since the Greendale fault first ruptured, 10 months since our house started falling apart, 10 months since our lives started to change in sudden & unexpected ways. Now we wait. We wait to find out exactly when our house will be demolished, we wait for the insurance payout that will kill off the remainder of our mortgage, and we wait to find out what's going to happen next in our rather unpredictable lives.
In the meantime, we make the most of our break away by spending a weekend in a dark smelly cave filled with hundreds of (mostly male) gamer geeks. Today is the last day, filled with tournament finals, prizegiving and packup. As crew, I can sense there will be a large amount of time being spent later this afternoon picking up trash and coiling cables, packing up the detritus of the country's largest lan event.
In less than a week, we'll be back in Shakeytown, coming to terms with the fact that we've actually made some progress. There are still a million and one things to sort out, and our future is still far from clear. But each little milestone brings us one tiny step closer to a resolution... even if we don't know where the finish line is anymore, at least we're moving closer.