Time, floods, tears, and The Karamu Stream.
Hello my loves, Kia Ora.
I’m posting a tiny video I just dug up from 2020. Ash was 5.
It is hard to explain what it feels like to have spent almost a year of my life – the first year of the pandemic starting in March 2020 – in a town where I was a total alien.
I had come to Aotearoa New Zealand with a single suitcase expecting to play 4 shows and stay 8 days. I wound up living there for 2 years and 2 months.
I was suddenly a solo mother.
This little town, Havelock North, (which is here:)
was where I spent that year, because I happened to have one old friend from college nearby: Kya, who took me in like family and held me in my panic and grief, even though they were going through their own covid nightmare.
I rented a house near Kya and got Ash into a little school (by the time we settled in our rental, the first lockdown was over and NZ was heading towards being 100% covid-free, which would stick for 14 months).
I bought a car, but almost every day I walked or biked Ash along the Karamu stream on his way to his new school.
I was fucking traumatized.
I couldn’t sleep most nights.
I had a hard time reconciling the beauty of the place around me to the horrors that I was finding out about my past, about the world, about covid. Most days, I felt like I was drowning.
To try to stay connected, I would take little videos for friends and family.
I couldn’t truly explain to them how I felt, how scared I was, how disoriented, how panicked, lost. Words failed.
Nobody could explain how they felt around then, I think.
How could we? Life felt simultaneously normal and mundane…and insane. I would wander through the grocery store with Ash and just burst into tears. This could not actually be happening.
But it was.
New Zealand beat covid.
Schools and shops opened.
The community took us in.
Teachers taught Ash. Loved him. Invited us over. Fed us.
While our counterparts in New York were locked down and zoom-schooling, Ash was attending pizza and pool parties. There were no masks. There was no social distancing. There was…no covid. From around June 2020 to August 2021, things were just normal, with the exception of travel in and out of the country being nigh impossible.
But we were far away from everything and everyone we knew.
This school walk along the stream brought me a tiny bit of peace every day.
It was just unbelievably gorgeous.
Ash and I made up stories about every house we passed, about the trolls who must live bridge we went under; we picked flowers and gave them to Vicki, his teacher.
I was just flipping through my phone and I must have 150 pictures of this little stream, the little bridge, and the path beside it….through four seasons.
It really was that green.
It hasn’t made massive American headlines (though it was good to see this article in the New York Times), but Hawke’s Bay – this area of NZ – is now devastated by floods. Many people lost everything. Homes, cars, animals, crops, bridges, so much loss. So far, 9 deaths and still over 5,000 people unaccounted for. Power and cell service still down in places.
Kya sent me pictures of the Karamu stream as it looked a few days ago – almost from the same vantage point of the above photo. It’s apocalyptic. The trees are uprooted and drowned.
My Hawke’s Bay friend Jamie MacPhail sent this, he’s down the road a ways.
Those are houses you see, buried.
The climate crisis is real.
I am sending my deep love and hope, to all my old whānau in Hawke’s Bay. You took care of me and my boy in ways you’ll never understand, in ways that still bring me to tears when I stop to remember.
I hope the next few weeks of reckoning are full of compassion and mercy.
Please check in with me if you can.
I’m sure there will be more to say. And do. Money to raise. Ways to help. (If you have any, please comment – as usual, I am reading).
But for now…love. A lot of it.
Arohanui…kia kaha koutou.
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