This is I suppose, a testament to the fact that I am a bit of a hermit. I know my way around this city, because I have followed the exact same routes for as long as I have been driving here (8 years – in case you were wondering). I do not drive by way of street names – because I forget names. I mean, I write the names down and follow my directions by street names, but I know where I am because of the landmarks around me.
Of course, the earthquake has ruined that. And the terrible roads on the east side of the city mean that I don’t go over there very often at all anymore. It’s just easier to stay on this side than to have to battle through millions of road cones and dodge massive potholes and road workers.
Yesterday, I met a friend for coffee in the city. I was excited to be going into the city, because I don’t do it anymore at all. We have been to the city approximately three times in the past almost two years. I knew where the place was, sort of, so I didn’t bother to write myself instructions. You see, the difficult part of navigating your way through Christchurch these days is that all the roads in the city are blocked off, so the ways you normally went, you can’t go down anymore. Which means that you are even more reliant on the landmarks to give you some idea of where you are.
But this doesn’t work either, because there ARE NO landmarks left in Christchurch! I drove into the city, knowing that I needed to get to the corner of Tuam and High Streets. I knew if I went down Manchester, I’d find it. I went down Manchester, and there was a road block, so I turned down a street without actually seeing a street sign (turns out it was Tuam St) and drove straight past the cafe and ended up a street and a half away with no clue at all of where I was.
So I call Ollie, and he’s like “what street are you on?” I don’t know what street I’m on. There aren’t any street signs! “Well, what’s around you?” “Uhm. Nothing. Just empty spaces and rubble.”
“Oh. He says.” “Yeah” I reply. I’m looking to my right, and seeing the street running parallel to me (Tuam St, the street I’m looking for) and it took us ages to figure out, that’s probably the street I was looking for. So I just parked in one of those big empty spaces, that used to be probably a good 6-8 buildings at one time, and I make my way down the street. Nothing at all looks familiar to me, until I finally see Alice’s and I’m like “That’s Alice’s! It must be close!”
Turns out, the cafe is now in the old Alice’s and I’d driven right past it without noticing. Actually, I’d pulled into a carpark opposite – but it was full and I had to find somewhere else, and I still did not realise where I was! You see, the new Alice’s which was also a mission to find when I first went looking some months ago, used to be at the end of a blocked off street. That street is now not blocked off and so I did not recognise where I was at all.
Today I ended up going across the city to a mall I am not all that familiar with. That was fine, because I’m pretty good at finding my way there. Except, when I left I could not for the life of me find my car. “I can’t find the car!” I frantically text Ollie. He doesn’t reply. “No really. I can’t find the car!” I text again. Meanwhile…I find the car.
Driving back, I decide I’ll get to our side of the city by 5pm, so I should just go pick him up from work. I go down the ring roads, towards the motorway and it’s all good. Except the motorway has been expanded and made HUGE and NEW and so I just go on straight down it, like I always do. But they’ve done something weird to it, and I’m going “wait a second…wait a second…” and I can’t wait a second, because hello? I’m on the motorway! “It’s fine!” I tell myself with waning confidence. “I’ll just keep going straight, like I always do and I’ll end up at Blenheim Road.” Yeahhhh…no.
I’m driving, and driving, and I see a sign, and it says “Timaru.” I’m going to Timaru, and the freakin’ motorway is neverending! How on earth am I supposed to not end up in Timaru! I don’t have the gas to get me to Timaru!!! What if the motorway just stretches out all the way there and there is no way off?
There was a way off.
I took the way off and had…yeah, you know it…no clue where I was. So I call my husband again, and bemoan the fact that I have no clue where I am, and the stupid motorway was taking me to Timaru.
All I can think about is that in FOUR DAYS TIME, I will be living in a completely new city and I’ve been in this one for 16 years now and I’m still getting lost!
He’s amused. I’m just tired and want to go home damnit!
It was easy enough to get there though, once he’d given me directions, it turns out I was only about ten minutes from home. Apparently I didn’t really want to pick him up after all.