This weekend, I joined my Mum and Gran at Ballantynes. It's something we used to do most weekends, but haven't attempted since the earthquakes
On my way in from Banks Peninsula, an eerie sense of déjà vous passed over me as I waited to cross from Oxford Tce to Lichfield St, stopped at a familiar intersection.
There had been countless other weekends when I had made this trip and the story was always the same. Once on Lichfield St, I would join the queue of cars lining up to enter the Lichfield St car park and find a park near the lift that would would take me to Country Road, where I would find my mother, who normally arrived first.
But I haven't made this journey since February 22. On this day, there is no spiralling ascent to find a park, the parking building is closed. Instead, there are cars, road cones, buses, and a free parking area next to the new bus exchange - Central Station (46-50 Lichfield St).
I find a spot for my car with ease, and notice my Mum's been just as lucky just a few spaces down. I grab my pay-and-display ticket and my car has claimed its free spot for the next 180 minutes.
A steady stream of cars follow my lead and I have to wait some time before crossing the Lichfield St pedestrian crossing and enter the ground floor of Ballantynes.
The city's heart is beating with life and Ballantynes in humming. The seats around JB's cafe are filled with people who have braved the chilly weather for a slice of normality. And it does feel normal. It feels amazing.
I join my Mum upstairs, where we look for something special for Gran - it's her birthday. We get distracted by Witchery Kids, a new addition, and then decide it's time for lunch.
Gran, Mum, daughter Ava and I choose Hummingbird, heading away from the tried-and-true department store and into the colourful container world. The melting snow is causing mini waterfalls to travel down the glass sides of the bright red container cafe. Gran receives a free glass of wine in honour of her special day, and my present to her, a scarf from The General Store (within sight from our seat), proves a hit.
Buzzing with coffee and full of food, Mum makes some enquiries at Scorpio Books, while Ava and I read The Hungry Caterpillar.
Outside, we are serenaded by Kenny Rogers, as The Gambler pumps out from the cab of a digger, churning up the dirt near ASB. A nearby building is getting some a facelift and its insides are on show, too, high above the bright steel shopping mall.
This is new Christchurch. It is similar to old Christchurch, but with has a few extra colours and shakes.
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