Yesterday, I was browsing in Borders with some friends of mine when we came upon a book full of photos of Christchurch. Not so unusual lately, I know, but this one was a little different - these photos were of Christchurch before.
I've seen a lot of photos portraying devastation and woe over the past year. I've sought them out, almost hungered for them. Recently I saw an album of empty spaces where buildings used to be. And I still can't stop looking at amateur videos on YouTube from 'that day'. They bring me back to when it all happened. But it doesn't hurt, not really. Along my street, all I see is demolition. I walk to my gate and there is the Grand Chancellor, leaning, being slowly eaten from the other side. The thunk-and-tinkle of buildings coming down are sounds that have replaced the basslines and laughter of my central city neighbourhood. And that's all fine. I don't cry about it anymore.
These photos, though, of Christchurch unbroken - they hurt. They brought back souvlakis eaten in the square, drinks at Liquidity, the funny lamps and laughter of Fat Eddies, Poplar Lane, breakfasts at The Bog, bagels and coffee and impulse buying of cheap jewellery on Sunday mornings. I remember markets and Sunday pints of lager and lime at The Dux. I remember my birthday, so shortly before, and Cafe Valentino and over-exposed photos in the courtyard; wedges smothered in sour cream.
All of these memories came flooding back, thinking about that photo book. I didn't know it then, but February was an ending. I thought I was writing my history anew. I remember saying, at my party, "I just know that this year is going to be the best of my life." We were all so full of hope, happy to be alive, glad for what we had, thankful for what we hadn't lost. I felt, that night, that my life was beginning a new phase. And I was right, but in the wrong way.
Thinking this, last night, I had also just finished a book series I loved, a TV show that kept me company through the dark days, and a faint hope for something I hadn't even articulated to myself. All was endings. And I am not good at those.
But as the song says, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." The pages of my life's future are still blank. Anything can be written there now - a new home, a new challenge - perhaps, in time, a new someone to write those pages by my side. And so I won't give up hope just yet.