Quake broke down prejudices

NOEL TURNER
Last updated 05:00 18/05/2014
quake neighbours

TESTING TIMES: During the aftermath of the Canterbury quakes, neighbours pulled together.

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We moved into our home in Christchurch, complete with our skeletons in the closet, nearly 10 years ago.

Moving from a secluded home where the neighbours were a long way away to a suburb where houses were much closer together was a bit of a learning curve.

It's a well-heeled district full of quiet, tasteful people, but as the vans turned up and started unloading our belongings, faces appeared at windows and small groups of our future neighbours found a reason to be chatting in their front yards to watch progress.

This went on for most of the day and we were smug and satisfied as interested glances came our way each time carriers turned up with new lounge and bedroom suites, a dining suite and a spa pool.

Our neighbour opposite thought he had it all sewn up. In his opinion I was the grumpy old dad (I have an angry resting face) and I was married to the woman helping us move (my best friend) and the other younger male (my partner) was our 'loser son'.

When our female friend left after a week of helping us to settle into our new home, our new neighbour across the road decided that the move had proved too stressful and that our marriage had broken up.

As our friend loaded her suitcase into the car and drove off, you could almost hear the sound of telephone calls between houses as they discussed this latest development.

Someone had mentioned, however, that we were a gay couple. We were told by one neighbour that we had no idea what it was like for the neighbourhood to know there was a gay couple moving in. I advised her that the neighbourhood had no idea was it was like to be the gay couple moving in.

In the end, we all became tolerant and dependable friends. However I had decided the neighbour opposite was a complete tosser and that we would probably never be friends.

How wrong I was.

We have all become close friends who know we can rely on one another. Indeed the earthquakes showed us that the whole local neighbourhood was made up of dependable and strong people in adverse times.

The folks opposite are like family. Good, solid, dependable friends. Hopefully they feel the same about us. We have joined in their family events and celebrations as they have joined in ours. We have holidays together and enjoyed the best of time. Our respective friendship bases are mingled, in fact, the wife works for me in my business.

We consider ourselves very, very fortunate.

Reminds me, I should pay our friendship tax.

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