As absolutely, bloody marvellous as the Internet is, there are some vile little flaws that daily drive me bananas. For example, just as I finished a painstakingly heartfelt tweaking of a prior blog post and hit ‘publish’, all my changes had vanished. Ka-boom – in a puff of Google-smoke!
C’est la vie, non? A year on into our homecoming, and this is perhaps the lesson we have learned most exquisitely. Now, remember that ‘exquisite’ can relate to both pleasure and pain. And pain there has certainly been. As you will see in my previous post, I was unable to sugarcoat the disappointment and trials of the last 12 months, even though there were a number of cowardly moments when I wanted to delete the post before publishing it. That yellow-streaked pride of mine at being such a devout South African recoiled in horror at my honesty. It screeched, a banshee, in my ear: “Why on EARTH would you hand yourself over on a plate for those expat-wolves that hunt you down? Do you WANT to die a slow, Mzansi death, listening to the cracking and crunching of your bones between their teeth?” But, I had always been honest in my pro-SA liturgies – though that never required courage - only passion and joy. Now, I had to let my pride slither off me, a sad little snake, and be bravely, terrifyingly real.
Being this honest made me realise the coming home is not for the faint-hearted or the cowardly. Coming home requires every ounce of strength, love, compassion and patience you had no idea you were capable of. And the truth is that you don’t possess it. Your homecoming draws it out of you, teardrop by sigh by sob – until, a year later, you find yourself astounded at the deep, exhilarating depths of your heart, where peace is the air you breathe in this canyon of your heart. (Yes, yes, the drama, the drama. But how else could I describe a journey that tears your dreams apart? A journey that unravels who you are, so that you pick up the Ariadne-thread of yourself right at the beginning, knitting yourself together again, in a stronger, more intricately beautiful stitch.)
I wrote that article for you. So that you can reap the rewards of my (kinda humiliating) hindsight. Do not let your heartache overwhelm your head.
1. WAIT for the very best job – IN the town/city that makes your heart sing (and where your mother can drop off a milktart and a box of tissues when you’re sick, or where you can have a family braai every single night if the mood took you, and the piks could sleep in Aunty Mandy’s room while the conversation sizzled hotter then the wors.)
2. And SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, damnit!! When my sister shared a mouldy, grey little flat with a mix of Brazilians, Polish and Aussies in London, she was so hellbent on saving, that she would use only one, papery square of already 1-ply toilet paper --- or drip-dry! (My nugget of wisdom? It may be hellishly miserable for a year, but if you can starve, scrimp, scavenge and save, you will come home to the comfort you deserve.)
Saying that, it really hasn’t been as bleak as I made it out to be in my previous post – I just wrote it on a particularly sad and blue day. So, to even out the little sadnesses, here is a list of incredibly precious South African moments that have blessed my heart in the last 53 weeks:
The wild vastness of the African sky… that if you gaze into it for long enough, you will into its turquoise sea of peace.
Starlit braais in the middle of winter after a balmy, dry day spent in awe of the African sun’s luminous and loving warmth.
Samp-and-beans made especially for me by our nanny who still works for our family, and who used to walk to pick me up from playschool when I was three – and whose cheese snackwiches rival Jamie Oliver’s most gourmet sarnie!
A spectacular moment of Africanness: Regal, graceful Nguni cattle walking across the road --- in the middle of the town, and in the suburbs. The delight of its surreality made me actually slam my brakes on, mouth agape in wonder! (Other variations on this very Eastern Cape thing that continues to be a novelty for this Mother City girl are the wild donkeys let loose to graze the pavements’ grass --- and, on one occasion, to rummage through our garbage bags all the way down our driveway! There have been herds of pedantic goats stuck, undecided, in the middle of our road. Driving back from Joza (the location) and executing my first (immaculate!) emergency stop since my driving test in 1997, so I could protect a mommy-donkey and her little one who decided he needed a drink of milk, and stopped in the middle of the highway for a dawdling suckle. Bonus? Flagging down a passing Department of Roadworks vehicle, I was bursting with pride as out the car spilled smiling and efficient Department of Roadworkers, who – with infinitely gentle patience – coaxed the pair safely across the road. (I was proud because the flak our government gets blinds us all to what they DO get magnificently right! There have actually been many moments of municipal efficiency in my last year here in Grahamstown, and – the odd, random minor catastrophe (though those are only hearsay – and probably a gross exaggeration. *wink*)
I could go on for pages and pages and paaaaaages, but let me say adios for tonight --- and see you sooner rather than later. (I always say that, don’t I? Eish… sorry….) But: there is light at the end of my erratic-blogging-tunnel: I have a benefactor who is gifting me with the blessing of internet so I can write full-time! I can finally have those daily word-parties I’ve been dreaming about --- and make a nice little living from it!
And so, on that triumphant note, see you (I promise) soon.