Thursday, July 26, 2012

Missing Home

I sat down to write this post a few hours ago.  Except I didn't know what to write so I searched for interviews of Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who it turns out are BFF's.  Then I read my friend's blog (which is awesome), made a cinnamon latte, made some toast, thought about how I felt like watching Chuck reruns instead of writing and checked Facebook and Twitter.  To my disappointment, inspiration was not forthcoming from any of those sources so I looked up quotes about "home."

What I found ranged from the cynical to the odd to the heartwarming.
Some of my favourites:
"The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home." - Confucius
"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." - Benjamin Franklin
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." - Maya Angelou

And then I came across one by a guy called Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe who said, 
"Go to foreign countries and you will get to know the good things one possesses at home." 

I feel this keenly and have been thinking about what it is about home that I miss so much.  I love this adventure that I'm on and I frequently get a thrill as I take in the heady mix of sights, sounds, flavours and smells that surround me.

That said, the sacrifice of home and all that it encompasses is a very real one.  Living away from home means missing out on not just the big moments but the smaller, everyday ones that make up a life.  It means giving up comfort, perhaps not financially, but emotionally and psychologically.  It means surrendering a lot of what you believe is the best way to do things.  Often it means laying aside your own food preferences and your own language.  Nothing is instinctive and everything must be thought about, all the while knowing that despite best intentions, there will be times when you have no idea what is going on or being said around you and there will be times when you get offended and cause offence.  

Being away has also made me think about what a remarkable country South Africa is and I am more thankful than ever that I get to call it home.

While varying in acuteness, homesickness is always there. Besides the obvious things like family and friends  there is an exhaustive list of things I miss about home.  Some of which are:
  • Smarties and Cadbury chocolate
  • Nestle hot chocolate
  • Going for meandering walks on the common in Grahamstown...

  •  and the farm in Harding

  • Green

  • Sitting as close as possible to the fire in Winter while roasting marshmallows
  • Day trips to Kenton, in fact the whole Eastern Cape coastline

  • Evening drinks and chips on the veranda with my family
  • Driving my car

  • South African's (we are a glorious motley crue of cultures and languages and beliefs and I love it)
  • Grahamstown Festival

  • Walking around my mom's garden, cup of tea in hand, while she points out newly blooming flowers or describes her plans to develop an area of the garden.
  • Star gazing
  • Mr Price & Woolies (it's so great knowing exactly where to find pumps or a good pair of jeans)
  • My typewriter

to name a few...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beauty in the Walking

I like walking.  I like the slowed down pace; the funny signs, interesting people and spontaneous moments that you wouldn't notice or appreciate were you using a faster mode of transport. I like the head clearing that happens, the perspective that returns, the smiles.

Last Friday night I took a walk along Sisowath Quay aka The Riverside.  It's a feast for the senses.  Aromas wafting out of the countless and varied restaurants, tuk-tuk drivers calling out, amateur and professional photo shoots, boats lazily gliding up and down the river, young guys playing a version of hacky-sack with a shuttlecock and large groups of people doing aerobics and/or synchronised dance moves.

By Sunday evening I'd had an unexpectedly full weekend and was anticipating a quiet night in to recupe, but I was swayed, very easily I might add, to join friends for a drink at the riverside.  The traffic was obscene so we parked our moto's and walked, an altogether more pleasant affair than battling car fumes and other harried drivers while inching forward painfully slowly.  We went to a rooftop bar at a hotel named The Quay and the view is exquisite, as is the mercifully cool breeze so high up.  After great conversation and a delicious, although unwise cocktail (Espresso at 7 o'clock meant I couldn't sleep until after midnight) we meandered back up the promenade and had a delightful ride home on much quieter roads.  I felt buoyed by the walks I'd taken over the weekend, like a sharp wind had blown away the cobwebs and bought perspective to my mind and peace to my heart.