WHEN THE RAIN COMES: Memory and loss

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Rain, The Beatles 1966 (original speed)
WHEN THE RAIN COMES: Memory and loss

A lot of people lost some things. Some people lost a lot of things.

A few lost everything.

We were lucky in many ways, we survived the January floods with our lives and most of our possessions intact.

But we lost a lot because my office of 20 years at ground level in our modest townhouse – with a lifetime of accumulated records, books, CDs, DVDs, travel journals and family photographs – was flooded.

It took a large skip and quite a few trips to get rid of saturated albums and books, wooden bookcases, boxes of sodden photos and journals and so on.

rain1Right now, some six months later, we have all the rescued stuff from the office -- and what had been a comfortable downstairs library-cum-lounge -- in storage for the foreseeable future while we wait for builders to be engaged to restore the walls.

They also need to investigate the outer wall of our place, an end unit in the block so perhaps impacted by the water which flowed across in.

We wait.

Everyone has their story about that night, this is ours.

Friday January 27 was Megan's last day at work, she had resigned from her very stressful and demanding job because she needed and deserved a break.

That night the people from the office took her out to dinner and gave her flowers and gifts, as the rain poured through the ceiling of the restaurant and the streets outside flooded.

rain2I was at home watching the water rise in our courtyard, fed by a literal waterfall coming down from the railway line which runs outside our townhouse. The waters rose and people moved their cars out.

It rose and started to creep under our garage door and into the library-cum-lounge.

I ran upstairs and got a couple of large beach-towels to mop the water up but by the time I got back down the trickle was starting to surge in. I threw the towels down and watched them float away and into my office.

The water rose relentlessly, I lifted whatever I could from ground level but . . . where to put it?

rain3I piled books and DVDs on chairs in the library area but by the time I'd done that the water was many inches deep and running through the office. Everything at ground level – and there were about 800-900 albums on a bottom shelf along one wall – was getting saturated.

All I could do was open the back door and let the water flow through from the courtyard and out into the back yard which was already inches deep.

Megan sent a text asking what was happening, I said we'd just become the people we used to see on television.

rain4There was nothing we or anyone could do. Every other unit in our block was also flooded. I said, enjoy your farewell dinner and went back upstairs to watch TV.

And still the rain came down.

Megan couldn't get home by taxi, Uber or public transport but fortunately one of her party had a car and so, by convoluted routes trying to avoid the flooding, this person dropped members of their group as near as she could get to their homes.

She let Megan off at the end of our street where the waters were up well past Megan's knees as she waded home carrying flowers, gifts, her bag and an umbrella.

rain5I'd told her that when she came into the courtyard to stick close to the fence-line where the floodplain was at its shallowest.

And still the rain came down.

We were lucky, we never lost power and the part of the house we live in was undamaged.

And we only lost things.

But many of them were important things as anyone who has been in a similar situation will tell you: family photos; stuff that meant nothing to anyone but you and so was valuable; things picked up from travels which had memories embedded in them . . .

I lost decades worth of travel journals, some of my artwork and notes for stories (For a decade I had been accumulating notes for a piece I wanted to write about the history and changing fortunes of the copy of the Greco-Roman Laocoon sculpture in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.)

rain6And of course literally hundreds of records.

When the wooden bookcases holding them had swollen, and the covers too had soaked up the water, they'd become so stuck that a week later we literally had to kick them out of the shelves.

They went into the skips.

But we were lucky.

Although the break that Megan had so long deserved didn't happen, for weeks she was on the laptop gathering material for the insurance claim, filling out paperwork, carrying boxes to the car to be taken to the lockups, dragging out damp stuff to the skips . . .

We couldn't have done it without each other.

rain7A lot of people lost some things.

Some people lost a lot of things.

Although I miss my Television, Southside Johnny and Dwight Twilley albums, we just lost things.

A few lost everything.


These entries are of little consequence to anyone other than me Graham Reid, the author of this site, and maybe my family, researchers and those with too much time on their hands.

Enjoy these random oddities at Personal Elsewhere.


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