Tuesday, November 15th 2:30pm
Currently writing this as I sit under a door frame because after a straight 36 hours of aftershocks, my heart starts to race and my adrenaline kicks in.
A Cubs World Series Championship. A Trump in power [and yes I’m one of those who still cannot put his name with his elected title]. And an earthquake hitting too close to home.
A year it’s been. Anyone above the age of four on this planet won’t forget this one. We’ll all remember when the upsetting [to some] election results bled red. The morning after when we prayed it was a bad dream to find out that he really did win the electoral college. But a week before Election Day was Chicago’s biggest celebration and I went home for it.
It was Sunday afternoon. I was at work, but rather behind the bar, I was sat a foot away from the TV watching the Chicago Cubs play the LA Dodgers in Game 6. When they clinched it, meaning the Cubs were heading to the World Series finally after decades of upsets and disappointing playoff rounds, the Cubs would have a chance to win it all. With patrons in the bar, I jumped, ran, cheered, and probably scared a few while celebrating. I couldn’t hold it in and when I headed to the Pacific Beer Expo [a beer fest my work puts on every year in Wellington] I hugged everyone in sight. Then I started looking up flights home. [A few days earlier I ran a few searches seeing how much damage I could do on my credit card in case this happened and texted my family when I found a reasonable price]. After a few deliciously, strong beers at PBE and the encouragement of my mates, I pressed confirm and the “holy shit, I’m flying home in two days” spontaneous rush hit me. The next day I woke up with a hangover and a sinking feeling I did something dumb. Oh right, I just bought myself 60+ hours of travel time to be home for a week. I could share my experience of flying to Shanghai then over to Chicago, literally flying across the world South to North, east to west but I’ll just offer one, ok two pieces of advice. Read your damn flight plan before booking regardless of the price and if you can avoid China Eastern Airways, always avoid it.
My lovely friend Mallory, who I shared my coming home news with, picked me up at O’hare to help me surprise my family. I casually strolled into my mother and brother’s office to say hello. Ethan looked at me as if he knew me, but couldn’t figure out who I was, then realized, and exclaimed, “whaaaat are you doing here?” Then we snuck up on my Mom. I scared her while she was typing away at her desk. She freaked with the same expression and got a little teary-eyed. Surprising is fun, but for the most part I just confused people.
The next week, I cheered on the Cubs with family and friends. Back and forth from the suburbs to the city. Spending Halloween with my favorite family and best friend Kelli.
I barely ate or slept out of pure anxiety and nervousness for the Cubs. I think the entire city of Chicago and every Cubs fan out there felt the same. After losing Game 4, the city was quiet. We had to win the next 3 games to take the title. I dealt with Game 5 by heading to the Blackhawks game sitting in a suite with some of my best friends. Hockey in front of me and the Cubs game on a tv to my right, not a bad set up. Hawks took the W and I got home just in time to watch the Cubs W fly again. Game 6 my friends and family sat across from Wrigley Field and cheered on as we beat the Indians to take it to Game 7, coming back for the win in the most nerve-wracking way. I even met an Aussie from Melbourne who flew back for the games just as I did. You have to love Cubs fans! Then it set it in that I’d be flying back during Game 7 and I’d have to wait until I reached Shanghai to find out if we won. I wanted to book a later flight, but I promised to be back in Auckland for work [I was a trainee judge for a national home-brew competition, tough job I know]. That night we celebrated as if we won the World Series. Up and out for hours after the game, a little bit of sleep, then back to the burbs to pack up my suitcase and say g’bye. My brand-new white Vans were proof we had a good time, and reminded me of my dance-off session at Evil Olive. Back to O’hare I went with just as much nerves and anxiety as when I arrived. My flight was delayed four hours and finally boarded the same time the Cubs stepped up to bat for the first pitch. The entire flight I tried to get the wifi working. I kept my mind busy with in-flight movies and a copious amount of crappy red wine. 11 hours in, I finally connected and received an iMessage from my brother. “We did it tor!!! 8-7 extra innings! Love you.” Relief and happiness flooded over me. I celebrated quietly as the entire plane slept and slowly learned more about the game from friends and family. What a game, what a chance of heart attack for every Cubs fan, but finally after 108 years the CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES. FOMO set in as I boarded my second 12 hour flight back to Auckland. I wish more than anything I could have celebrated in the city, but I’ve been proudly wearing my Cubs hat in NZ ever since and constantly get stopped about the games and the team. How could this week get any better!!! Then Tuesday happened.
In New Zealand it was Wednesday afternoon. My work threw an election party. Two of my colleagues brewed 2 beers for such occasion. “I’m Wit Her” infected with squid ink and a “Make Brown Ale Great Again.” By the time I arrived the place was packed to the brim. The next hours flew by as I poured beer after beer and pushed through the crowds. Then people starting telling me he’s winning. And I thought no, no, more states have yet to release. It won’t happen, just you wait. Well shortly later I realized it was happening. People left in disbelief. Some stayed crying and just questioning “how, why” and many many profanities were passed about. We even had a group of Trump supporters taking photos in their “Make America Great Again” t’s and hats. I kept myself busy to push away the anger, denial, and disgust. But when I saw that fake-tanned, smirky son of a bitch step on to that podium, my emotions rushed over me and I wanted to scream, kick, punch, and cry at the same time. People bought me sympathy shots and I gladly washed them down. Since then it’s hard to look at social media, but we can’t stop. I must keep reading article after article trying to figure out how this happened, what will happen, and what is happening in not only my own country, but around the world. I cannot understand how only half of the country who are eligible to vote, voted. This proves the electoral college needs changing. What if we fined citizens who didn’t vote like Australia? Would that help? It’d probably just cause more outrage. It’s all too frustrating. I want to say a lot more, but I’m sick of the ugliness, and I don’t want to fight, or debate, or discuss much of this anymore. But I am proud of those being proactive in this time. Supporting Planned Parenthood (in the name of Pence is brilliant) and studying up on what will help our country, not divide it. I worry for women, minorities, and immigrants. I pray parents are teaching compassion and love in these situations and when there is hate between people, someone is there to step in, stand up, and stop it. Regardless of what way you voted, we are all humans in the end.
And just as my anger and depression started to fade away, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Wellington. Although I’ve felt a few shakes since living in NZ, most have lasted a second or two waking me up confused state, realizing what happened minutes later. But this one was quite different.
Ryan and I entertained our friends, another vegan couple for home-made pizzas at our new place. It was Sunday night, Ryan passed out before midnight and just as I climbed into bed, the earth began to sway. When it didn’t stop, I panicked. I started aggressively shaking Ryan yelling “earthquake,” and he, in a half-sleep state of mind, continued to push me away trying to go back to bed. Screw him, I decided. And just as I turned to flee, I watched the sky light up in a blue flash, like a bolt of lighting in a shade I’ve never seen before. My instinct drove me out of the house. That’s what they do in the movies, right? After a straight minute that felt more like 10, the ground stopped moving. I instantly called my mom, and began to cry [totally normal?]. Then fear and adrenaline kicked in. Soon followed by frustration after Ryan, who barely realized what happened, begged me to return to bed. Sorry love, but sleep was the last thing on my mind. Apartments near by were evacuating and police sirens screaming in every direction. I quickly learned thanks to social media that this was the biggest quake Wellingtonians have experienced. We were fortunate to be in our single-story home on the hill, but the city center turned into mayhem. Hundreds of residents stranded on the street while police investigated the damage, no idea when they’d be able to return to bed. A few friends who live in high-rises shared their experiences with me. As their apartments swayed, they stood in the doorway hoping this wasn’t their last moment on earth as their belongings moved across the floor. At this point I had poured myself a large glass of bourbon and sat in my living room unsure if I was shaking or the ground.
Aftershocks may be my least favorite thing on this planet. For the next few hours days, Wellington shook randomly giving everyone anxiety and little sleep. Earthquakes are unlike any disaster I’ve experienced. In the midwest we’re well versed in tornado warnings and we have time to prepare, but an earthquake happens without warning giving you seconds to react. Now I know not to run outside in case of things falling on me, but to hide under tables or in doorways. And that due to the plate shifting, we are expecting another large earthquake. Since that day we’ve had many strong ones, but apparently a “big one” is coming. And that blue light I saw is a phenomenon seismologists have been trying to measure for centuries. It’s most likely a charge that builds up inside the Earth’s crust and when it becomes unstable in a quake, it expands outward. Pretty glad that I caught a glimpse of it in the midst of the chaos!
It’s been one hell of a way to wrap up 2016, but as far as I know the ground beneath me will continue to shake, Trump will infuriate me for the next four years, but at the end of the day the Cubs are still World National Champions.
Thanks for reading,
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