Friday, April 1, 2011
Bowling for Christchurch
God, it was good to see them again. Most of them were strangers just five weeks ago. But when they walked into the bowling alley - the members of the 12:51 Club - it was like meeting old friends. We became an instant fraternity at 12:51 on February 22, when the Christchurch earthquake struck.
And now we were getting back together for the first time. At a bowling club. Because knocking things over that look like skyscrapers is a good thing for people who have seen buildings fall all around them to do.
Our wonderful Kiwi friends, who organized the inaugurual meeting of our new club - which sounds nowhere near as sexy as Club 64 - had printed up name tags with a witty quote about the wearer and the precise location he/she was when the quake hit.
Most of us hadn't seen each other since that profound day.
For thirty minutes we talked about the violence and the horror of what we'd been through. It was merely, "Where were you and how did you get out?" Just a piecing together of the human geography of the day. For once we didn't need to explain, to quantify the degree of the violence and the horror. We'd all been there. And believe me, there was some horror.
And that was it. Then we played and laughed and drank and talked of that day no more. There was no need. For Amy and me it was the most relaxed, most natural day we have had since February 22.
Talking to people who weren't there can be a frustration; not talking to people who were is a gift. They know. They simply know. And that is it.
We didn't need to explain anything to one another. Some were doing better than others. For those who are still trying to put the world back together in their heads, this was the perfect group. For there was no judgment, no "shouldn't you be over it by now" sentiment. There were just people who understood.
It was the first time Amy and I had had unabashed fun since the quake. Cheering about stupid strikes or spares or some vague competition between ourselves, that was the ticket.
We - the 12:51 club - will always be friends, even though we were little more than strangers. Now we will be forever bound. And we had a great day today with each other. Like no other group. Because we are the 12:51 club, and we are getting our lives back together, thank you very much.