“Home is not a shell you climb into, Home is the people who are there for you, that leave the door open even when you are at your worst”
This saying is something Murtahs wife said to Riggs when he went through one of his bad episodes. From the series Lethal Weapon. A truly “Skop-skiet-en-donner”* show if there ever was one.
The words stuck with me however, let me tell you why.
Between the ages of 7 to 14 I went to 9 different primary schools, we have semesters in South Africa and the one year I changed schools 3 times in one year. The more we moved around the less I was able to develop friendships, to the extent where, when I realised that there is a move coming up I would purposefully sabotage a friendship by picking a fight.
I will never forget the best school friend I ever had, and what I did to her when my dad announced another move. To this day the last picture I have of her in my mind is her crying as I refused to forgive her for something I blamed her of, that she never did. It was easier to end it this way and spend the next couple of weeks at school alone than to say goodbye. I look back and I wish I was strong enough to honour her for the friend she was.
Funny, the regrets one has when one grows older.
None of the different towns, cities, houses, caravans or apartments that we stayed in, stayed with me as my home. It’s an endless cycle of different places, different furniture layouts, different weather, different people, gardens, trees etc. Etc. My mother truly performed wonders with what she had to work with to give us a little bit of stability.
I am in awe of people who have friends that they got to know from Kindergarten. People who miss “home” such as a country or town or city that they grew up in. People who spend their anniversaries with others they grew up with. The only other people I knew from a young age were my siblings… of course, and my cousins. My family made a concerted effort of visiting the family over the holidays. I think it had partly to do with the fact that some of them lived near the sea and its expensive to go to the sea, well anywhere actually, with 4 children in tow. I do treasure this though, it gave me the opportunity to get to know my cousins like the family they are to me.
I did have a place I could call home for a long time in Cape Town. Or the closest thing I ever had to a real home, with those who left the door open for me when I was at my worst. Who lent me a sympathetic ear and with whom I could just be quiet with. Nothing needed to be said, a place where I truly experienced what it meant to be accepted for who you are.
For the first time in my life I had a place where I could, same as others my age, go “home” for the weekend to wash my clothes, to just be a young adult at the brink of taking responsibility in life. I would be a part of the familial rituals; sharing a coffee and a rusk with my uncle in the mornings or sitting in the sun on the veranda on winter afternoons with my gran.
I even got given a curfew by my gran the one time. She did not want to let me out of the house before it was agreed… I was 19 years old at this stage. 😂
I could also care and give back. Help my gran with chores, or my uncle with his latest technology acquirement to show him how it worked.
My wish for anyone growing up is to have a home, which offers a safe haven to return to once you start out on your adventures. It makes the world so much less scary and it is a gift of good memories that lasts a very long time. For the times when one has moved too far away or the home is not there anymore.
The smell when walking through the front door. Filter coffee percolating in the morning… the sound of the television in the background blaring the latest newscast as my uncle was marking midterm papers.
In Cape Town, it was not just the city that had it’s magic, but is was where I found a safe and stable haven for the first time in my life.
Every time I have left Cape Town in the past couple of years, there was always a very big frog in my throat. If not tears running down my cheeks. If you say goodbye often enough it does become easier. At times, even today, I miss that glorious mountain, the smell of Sea, the wind blowing all my cobwebs away, the sun on my skin and the crashing of the waves against the shore promenade in Green point.
For a wandering soul like mine, where it’s normal to pack up and go, I had to learn what a real home was to create my own home one day. Being a wanderer means that one is often alone, wandering does not contribute to lasting relationships, the question is always when will she need to leave again? This is why it did not seem like a big issue to pack up my stuff and move continents. I was just continuing with the family tradition of not settling down.
Now I revel in the stability. I am in love with my little flat and home I created. One day, just one day my hope is that I may be blessed to share this home in my heart with my own family.
* Skop-Skiet-en-Donner: (Kick, Shoot and kick-ass) South African description of an action movie or an action related scene.