Is it good news or bad news?

The good news is that a friend came to stay with us for a few days last week.

The bad news, for me, is that she has now gone home.

The good news is that she is coming back again for another visit in June.

The even better news is that I have good friends who walk beside me in good times and bad, and the times in between.

A long time ago, when my friend (the one who has just been and gone) and I were students in Christchurch, we were desperately looking for accommodation we could afford. Then, as now, reasonably priced rental accommodation was hard to find.  In pre-Internet days, finding a place to stay sometimes meant physically exploring the streets for vacancy/rental signs.  We had almost given up hope when my friend came across an abandoned and neglected  cottage in an area of the city which is now called the Avon Loop.  She thought it looked habitable so she set about tracking down the owner of the property.  Again a lot of footwork  was required but, finally, an agent for the owner was located and negotiations began.  We proposed that, if he let us live in the house for a small rent of $20 a week, we would tidy the property and be responsible tenants. We would protect the property from vandals and vagrants, we said!  The owner was dubious (we were students, after all) but he agreed that we could live there until he received  planning permission to build on the property, at which time the old cottage would be demolished.

Thus began one of the most interesting years of my life. With some help from friends and relations, and a teeny, tiny budget, we scrubbed and cleaned and painted that old house into a lovely  home.

At the end of the student year, my friend and I had different paths to travel, so we arranged for some friends to take over the tenancy of the cottage. The landlord was only too happy to agree as his building plans seemed to have fallen through and he had seen how his derelict cottage had been transformed from disastrous to desirable at no cost to himself. Lucky man.

Over the years, we  kept an eye on the cottage and, to our absolute delight, it seemed to find more care and loving hands  with each passing decade.

Then along came the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. And the Avon Loop area was hit hard. We feared for our cottage but, on a visit to the Loop last year, we found the cottage, a little tilted, but still standing.

Here it is in 2012, once again uninhabited, as far as we could tell. The residents had probably been forced to move because of  earthquake damage to the property.

Our Cottage

My friend and I  have since discovered that the property is on land that is considered safe for rebuilding but we don’t know if demolition once more hangs over this little house that has such a special place in our memories . Maybe we will investigate next time my friend visits, but, in many ways, if it is gone I would rather not know.  Too much of what we once knew has gone already. And as the buildings go, so, too, go the anchors that keep our memories secure in time and place.

Friendly notes or why our friends are more important than ever:

The bad news:  almost 12 percent of our district’s populace is depressed.  209,000 anti-depressant prescriptions were handed out in 2012; pre quake mental health referrals of 90 per week have soared to 150 referrals  per week in the past 3 months; 80 community support workers are helping 1100 people daily….. and on it goes……

The good news:  66,000 people are seeking help. I would like to say that 88% of the population is doing well but, judging by levels of road rage, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly behaviour  and general short temperedness, more people could do with help from friends, medical or otherwise.

© silkannthreades

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42 thoughts on “Is it good news or bad news?

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And that would be such a sad day. But the land is probably worth so much more than the house so it could be very tempting for a developer to buy and demolish it. However I will remain positive.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Some experts are saying that it is the third year after a traumatic natural event that is the hardest, especially in terms of stress and mental health.

      Reply
  1. lizzierosejewellery

    An interesting story about the house – let’s hope it has a happy ending. Sad news about the mental health and negative attitudes in the area. Natural disasters are more than just the destruction of the landscape…

    Reply
  2. ks3nia

    I studied abroad last year… I hope I’ll get to see my foreign friends again.. and that Amsterdam will never change… but, time will show I guess :*)

    Reply
  3. ordinarygood

    I have read so many accounts written by people who have lived on the Avon Loop….most accounts have been post earthquakes. It must be a very special place.

    Resilience and bounce back take their own time for each individual. Life demands do not always allow time or the best circumstances in which to heal. I read recently that depletion can be a useful alternative to depression in describing where people find themselves. Depleted of cash reserves, physical reserves, emotional reserves, support systems, nutritious food and more…….
    I am glad you have such a good friend.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How wonderful to know about depletion. That’s an excellent way of looking at a situation. Happily, I am not depleted of good friends. The Avon Loop was a happy place for us.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Tragic. Sadly, I think many of our ‘natural’ disasters come about because of our unwillingness to live cooperatively with nature. Much of the damage in our city was caused, not so much by earthquakes, but by our refusal to understand the nature of the land we built on.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That is interesting. I am guessing that might be as cheap as a year’s supply of ibuprofen or something like that. I am not sure what the cost is here. We have an organisation called Pharmac which sources and controls medications for the New Zealand market. Prescription drugs which are on the Pharmac list are usually available at a reasonable price to the consumer.

        2. Ron Scubadiver

          Ibuprofen can cost more if you have a chronic pain problem. In the US Walmart sells many generic drugs at cost or barely above. Most antidepressants have been around long enough to be generic.

  4. lensandpensbysally

    Thank you for giving us a peek into your past and present. The story is heartfelt and gives us a personal glimpse at the yin/yang of the human condition. Our state of mind is often lifted or battered by the intersection of nature and human nature.

    Reply
  5. Judy Guion

    It’s a shame that so often, it isn’t until later in life that we realize the value of a true friend. May you and all your friends continue caring for each other.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. Your grandfather’s letters give some fine examples of the value of friendship. Friendship within the family and outside of it.

      Reply
  6. teamgloria

    hello, dear

    oh. wow. very moving story.

    there’s a little house in wraysbury, england, that we shared with three others at university and feel the same way about……..drove past it over a decade ago and the plaque to the left (or was it right?) of the door saying “Cloud 9” (after the Caryl Churchill play of course) that we bought was still there.

    magical.

    Reply
  7. cindy knoke

    You cottage is lovely and the story is wonderful!
    Unmet mental health needs subsequent to trauma double the damage. The rates of depression everywhere are beyond concerning.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Our situation here in Christchurch is something of a research gem for mental health experts interested in the mental health response to the experience and effects of trauma. I agree depression rates are concerning everywhere. I am glad you liked the cottage. I am very proud of the way we rescued that little gem of Christchurch’s history and we had NO MONEY when we did it.

      Reply
  8. Annie's Place

    I enjoyed reading your post. I remember looking for housing with my girlfriends in the pre-computer days when we were students. Lots of good memories from those days. Sadly I have lost touch with some of those friends and I have no idea where they are now. I imagine it is very difficult to recover from the earthquake and I am glad that people are able to talk about the mental health issues.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have lost touch with people too and often wonder where they are and what they are doing. Yet, I am so lucky to still be in touch with many friends; some from as long ago as my kindergarten days. We don’t meet in person very often but the internet enables us to keep in touch regularly. I am glad you enjoyed my post and it prompted some memories of your own.

      Reply
  9. pleisbilongtumi

    I can imagine at so lovely your friendship is and the memories have come along your journey from teenagers to what you are now. I enjoyed the story which blends the joy and apprehension. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Reply
  10. utesmile

    This is a delightfu story with the cottage. Funny when I moved in this area 23 years ago we didn’t pay rent but di refurbish the kitchen instead for a while. Some landlords are quite happy when the tenants try to make the property nicer. I can imagine you have great memories with your friend from this time.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Great memories and it is nice when landlords and tenants can ‘look’ after each other for the benefit of everyone, including the property.

      Reply
  11. Amanda Wood

    I enjoyed your story about friendship and how a home is created, a safe space. I am also sorry for you and the community for the feeling of safety being removed thanks to mom nature. Even though those stats you quoted can be a little unnerving, the fact that it is being discussed is really positive. Depression, and understanding its role in a whole community’s health, has been hidden and a stigma for too long,

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, you are right; one of the bright spots of the after effects of the earthquakes is that depression/mental health is being talked about. More people are realising that it is okay to ask for help. We are seeing that mental health issues can affect any one. I am glad you enjoyed my story of friendship. I was reading about your good friends who helped you get your cats to Sweden.

      Reply
  12. kiwiskan

    Unfortunately, when it’s no longer ‘hot news’ the aid dies off and people forget. Thanks for the reminder and the glimpse of a beautiful cottage.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, mental health issues are really to the fore in Christchurch at the moment; there’s interest and research and support. But will the health and financing authorities be able to sustain the momentum?

      Reply
  13. Clanmother

    What a wonderful friendship. Some of the best times are when we are young students, carefully parsing out the funds in meaningful allotments. As for depression – a very difficult, complex journey. Now, more than ever before, they is help and hope!

    “In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant… My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known — no wonder, then, that I return the love.”
    ― Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A fascinating quote. The statistics I gave were from our daily newspaper. I think the statistics need more background but they give an interesting glimpse of the city’s current state of health.

      Reply

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