I was doing so very well. After a day spent revelling in the natural beauty of this impossible to replicate city, we went out for fancy cocktails at the fancy downtown hotel “15 on Orange” (it has been fashionable for a while now to name hotels simply with their address coordinates). I then cooked mushroom risotto for everyone and happily settled on the couch to watch “Satisfaction”, an Australian tv show about highly paid escorts that I could have only discovered through Sue, the tv fiend. After 3 episodes I am hooked and very happy to report it can be rented on Netflix for any of you who might be interested in trashy, girly tv.
This morning was fine too. Looking forward to a last jaunt through Cavendish where, in an inspired feat of architectural planning, the best coffee shop in the mall is adjacent to the bookstore – they actually share an entrance next to the magazine bay. You see where I am going with this – one shamelessly borrows magazines and settles on the battered leather couch sipping good coffee and taking in all the gossip, fashion and design trends without shedding a dime on the actual glossies.
But once at the airport, my feelings started going downhill as I was leaving my best friend behind, putting a couple of continents and oceans between us. In the last 25 years, we have shared the ups and downs of our lives and she is my family. I know Ottie and I could live here, in her proximity, and be quite at home. The act of leaving is always so fraught with the realizations of everything that could be but will not.
If South Africa is plagued with unrest, unemployment, inequality and abject poverty, there is still a sense that things could be possible here. Maybe because it’s a new democracy which embraced capitalism fully only less than two decades ago. As a dinner companion pointed out a few days ago “the whites are not in power anymore, it’s a completely black government that is still fumbling about. Whites are here because they need our expertise and by the grace of this government but things could always change”. Not everybody shares this doom and gloom – countless foreign capitals and resources are still tied here, democracy might be in its infancy but it is strong and it’s not so much a racial struggle that is taking place but an economic one. Poverty vs those who have, whether black or white. This ferment is attractive to an outsider because it smells of transformations.
The sun is now setting behind the large airport windows. It will be a long night and an even longer day tomorrow, in the company of books and strangers. In a couple of days my life will go back to its normalcy, as normal as any life can be. I am hoping I will be able to hold on to the courage and the sense of purpose travelling always instill.