OPINION: As the moving company slogged away packing my chattels into their truck I told them I did not know how they did it, house after house, day after day, dismantling people's nests and dealing with stressed-out bunnies.
They nodded philosophically, saying they had seen it all: acrimonious couples who had split up and were fighting over who owned what right up till the truck pulled out of the driveway; people fleeing from unpaid rent; quake refugees moving again and again; elderly people suffering the trauma of going into care.
You name it, moving sucks, they said.
Ain't that the truth brother, I replied after days of garage sales, discarding, culling, giving stuff away, trips to the dump, cleaning and sneaking off without a proper bash because it would have been too upsetting.
Fortunately, two troupers wanted to "come with" as modern parlance puts it, and accompany me up the island to settle me in the north as we squeezed into the tiny car jumbled with semi-essentials and a lot of opinions.
It took my mind off the fact that gee whiz I had really gone and done it now, and was in the act of burning a bridge as the miles tore up behind us.
The ferry was late but once on, it felt good to have the three hours in no-man's land to farewell one island and prepare for the next.
We rolled off the ferry and arrived at the house I had not lived in for seven years but which had been saved from certain death by a brilliant builder.
It was the same but very swish and after years of grotty flats I felt a little overwhelmed, wondering at the same time how Benecio's feline mind would cope with a house that had been rewired, insulated, repaired and smelt so very different now.
The truck turned up the next day and my chums rolled up their sleeves and without complaint helped sort me out, refraining from ticking the chatelaine off for not having culled more belongings as the taunt of John Lennon's Imagine no Possessions rang in my head.
My mother's crockery and best china was liberated at last from cartons it had been carefully packed away in, and I felt victorious that everything fitted in the cupboards till - duh - I realised I had failed to reserve space for food.
Oh well, who needs food, I shrugged. Just short food then will be the order of the day till I get the hang of the new kitchen.
Covered in what a friend calls "marital bruises" - those welts that come with lugging furniture and banging into things - we sallied forth into the city and were shocked by how young it has become.
"The thing is," my friend remarked, "we are now too old to even be the young people's parents." And it's so brown - lots of Maori and Pacific Islanders and Indians. It made me remember how white Christchurch seemed when I first got there.
The streets here teem with cool people as we looked at one another and, unaccustomed to hordes, wondered if there was something on.
Everyone was young and beautiful as we managed to penetrate a bar and restaurant so grooved up we felt impossibly old and shabby, waiting to be asked by management to quit the premises due to lack of style.
But a good time was had by all and the city appears to be inclusive to those of a certain age.
The post-quake phrase "Welcome to the new normal" will reign till the re-entry shock fades.
- The Press