Searching for a diamond in the rough

20:45, May 09 2014

If you saw two hunched lunatics scouring Bealey Ave by the light of the moon, torchbeam and the glow of an iPhone on Monday night, I wish to assure you we're not monsters.

The Hunchbacks of Bealey Ave are nothing to be scared of. It was me and my boyfriend, inching our way along Bealey Ave in the dark, all crumpled and staring at the footpath, we must have looked like loons.

I'd lost an earring. A diamond earring. Perhaps the least deserved diamond in the city.

He'd given them to me just three days prior. A gift from Dannevirke.

I was most pleased but I'd neglected to tell him I can't have precious things. Especially earrings. I'm always losing one.

Anyway, my three-day-old gems and I went for a run and somewhere near the 3km-mark I noticed one was missing. I suspected I'd lost it when I removed my top layer on the corner of Bealey Ave and Papanui Rd.


"Something really bad has happened," I said when I got home.

Which brings us up to the part where he and I are hunched over the footpath, scanning it millimetre by millimetre. Every shard of glass, every glistening piece of plastic or foil from a cigarette packet, they all shine. And let me confirm, there are more of those per square metre than you'd care to know.

After so many buildings fell in the quakes I wished I'd looked up more often but looking down is equally fascinating.

For instance, I disturbed what looked like two daddy long-legs spiders mating. Then I pushed a very small moth with my finger thinking I'd found it.

An hour had passed and we'd had no hope.

In my imagination, I sank to my knees and cried: "Give me a sign, Lord!" Then, in reality, a cream-coloured fluffy cat padded our way. Was he the sign, Lord? Or was he doing what cats do and actually standing in front of the torchlight blocking my every move and trying to trip me up?

It turned out to be the latter.

We kept looking. We found a guy called Bernie out walking his dog. He offered to keep his eyes peeled on his morning walk.

We kept looking. We found a guy wanting directions to the nearest backpackers. He promised to keep his eyes down.

We searched further. A woman called out: "What are you looking for?" from her motel balcony. We told her. She remained silent. She knew futility when she heard it.

Another couple gave us their time and abandoned their upright posture in the hunt.

One woman gave us a tip. Drop your other earring to see what it might look like on the footpath.

I did so. We could barely see it. This wasn't a needle in a haystack. It was my own private MH370.

When lurking up a road with a torch and a bent spine, you soon realise how kind the vast majority of people are.

Almost two hours later, we gave up and went home. And there, on my bedroom floor, I saw the butterfly earring back.

I spouted a few choice words. Of all the parts of the earring I was desperate to find, it most certainly was not the backing. I'd given up hope but my boyfriend got the fire in his belly. He upended everything and found it in the bed. If you can imagine an earring with a smug face, that is what I saw.

And worse, now my boyfriend considers he's given me three diamond earrings in three days. His maths is definitely all wrong.