Christchurch is not as bleak as I imagined it might be, as others led me to believe it was. The earthquake happened two years ago but there’s still this mild feeling of alarmed gratitude. My sister’s boyfriend points out a building that should have been shaking for its spindly, scarred limbs. Like bare knees, like a newborn, like something that will eventually fall.
‘That’s quintessential,’ he says.
If you lived here you might not notice it.
I never liked anywhere too flat, with no spaces to hide. It feels like there is nowhere to go, that the earth might indeed be flat and you would just fall off one side. The lady next to me on the plane talks only of her ailing mother in a hospice somewhere, her husband wearing dress jeans, everyone has their own ills. I stare out the window and think of my own, think of what I would say if anyone asked me. Nobody will ask, on steroids my face has lost its contours. Certainly in profile my emotions look unchanged no matter my mood. I mean, nobody could tell if I was ever upset.
I don’t know how old my sister’s flatmate is but I am to sleep in her single bed, in this room without personality. I don’t have sex here on purpose or with a reason I can think of, something I could justify. It just happens and I watch The Avengers with his head in my lap, running my fingers through this familiar crop of hair, I am happy here. I could stay here for a long time, just like this. But he has to leave and I have to grow older and think about the scar that will be left if they have to cut my thyroid out, and then I have to make plans if I am to have a future at all.
(The mark would be a gash across my throat, to cut my words in half, to force my acknowledgement of the world outside my pathetic bouts of depression.)
((And this sickness is much more frightening than the realisation I spent eighteen months inside my house and how I was, in fact, the very definition of wasted youth and it was not dramatic or attractive, it was just very embarrassing. And how did I emerge with these ugly laugh lines beneath my bleached irises when I did not laugh?))
In Wellington I can kneel before myself. You did it, you cut everybody out. You set a goal and you accomplished it. I may grow my nails next, long enough to pull my bones out so that I may actually command the presence of a room with what I am: Utterly spineless.