Colors

Moorland+Neolithic Stone Circle

Last weekend was a busy one: I was determined to make the most of good weather on Saturday, so I went for a walk on a nearby moor. It was tough going at first as I climbed up onto the moor, and I wondered if I would cope with the rest of the walk, but thankfully once up on the moors it was flat and fairly easy going. I saw a stone circle, some grouse, and various other (mostly unknown) birds. I went out quite late in the afternoon, which made for a very atmospheric walk. At one point it was just me, walking through the moorlands alone, the sun low, bathing everything in soft, yellowish light, everything quiet apart from the rustle of the wind through the heather, and the occasional chatter of a grouse or burst of song from a skylark. I walked slowly then, enjoying the warmth and the peace and the fresh air. I really needed it. I tried to hold onto that feeling of peace and contentedness as long as I could once I was off the moors and on the bus home and throughout the week, but it somehow escaped me as the week dragged on.

At the opera.

Anyway, back to that weekend. The next day I went out to the opera, which was fantastic, although I somehow thought wearing sky high heels was a good idea, which was not fantastic. Ouch. I went to see “Salome” and I loved how dark it was. That, and it was a full orchestral staging which was just epic, really. It’s funny, I find opera annoying to listen to, but I just love to watch it. It’s so dramatic and almost over the top, but in a good way.

It was a good weekend all in all, but a little tiring. So this weekend I did nothing. I nested at home – doing chores, giving some TLC to plants and fish, lazing around idly watching YouTube videos. It was nice.

Spring is finally here! It’s wonderful seeing so much color in the world – cherry blossoms lined up on avenues, patches of daffodils below said cherry trees, city and town plantings, fields full of flowering rape seed…. That, and there’s lambs in the field and they are the cutest. :3

I’m still commuting to another office for work, which involves a much longer commute. I switched country roads for dual carriageway which is much easier and smoother to drive on, but it’s still very long. It leaves me feeling tired but also, strangely, a bit restless, as it’s also rather boring. I feel proud of myself for managing it (as I’m such a new driver) but at the same time not so proud for not managing it very well- it’s a struggle to be on time. It’s a bit different in many ways and I’m enjoying it, sure, but it’s not without its challenges.

“I end up feeling empty, like you’ve taken something out of me, and I have to search my body for the scars, thinking ‘Did he find that one last tender place to sink his teeth in?'”

This weekend was another long weekend for me: I’m disorganized enough that I booked the Friday off without realising I was doing so directly after a long bank holiday weekend. Oh well. I went home to my parents on Friday and stayed with them over the weekend. On Friday and Saturday we chilled at home and I showed my parents all my photos from my trip to south Africa, and then on Sunday I went for a nice walk with my dad into the Peak District, before traveling back to my flat. It was a nice weekend, but also awkward, with the usual bickering and arguing to listen to, and try to blank over. Arguments between my parents, my mom ranting at me, and my sister came round once just to shout at everyone which made it all awkward, and it’s just tiring, that kind of atmosphere. I wish my family got on better. Or rather, that we could find some middle ground. Either we are getting on or we aren’t and it’s often hard to tell when the tide has turned. I felt particularly sad to be shouted at by my sister, who I usually get on well with, but she has a cruelty to her, which shows itself randomly and in that way, always takes me by surprise. You never know when she will turn on you, and that makes me feel vulnerable and sad. (It’s confusing – how just a week ago everything was fine and yet now it’s not.) It hurts to see such ugly sides of the people you love. Sometimes it feels like the only one who really wants me to come back, and who enjoys me being there, is my father. It’s a little disheartening – to endure over two hours of boring public transport, and to pay the ridiculous over expense of it, to go there and just end up feeling tired and drained. But I guess if it’s making just one person happy, I shall continue to try and be good and visit my parents as often as I can.

Still. Once going home to my parents felt like a refuge, but now it feels like just another place I need to put on a mask and craft a careful personality in order to avoid stirring the pot or doing something wrong, much like work. It’s not great. I feel unbelievably tired of it all. It was a good walk on Sunday though – the sun was trying to shine, it did not rain, there was no wind, no snow or ice, and the air was warm but not too warm, and smelt fresh after rain on Saturday. We did have to squelch through some terrible mud at one point, but otherwise it was not too hard and very pleasant.

Today I started work at another office, which requires a much longer commute. To get there, I drove on narrow, winding, pot holed, country roads for a good deal of the way, feeling pressured to go much faster than I was comfortable with the entire time by other people driving on my tail. I don’t see what they think they are acheiving by driving on my bumper, except making me more nervous and prone to mistakes. Sigh. This morning there was a thick mist which obscured my view, so it felt like I was driving into nothing. It was very disorientating. Thankfully it had cleared for my evening commute. And, although I was even more stressed this evening, tired and desperate to be home, not bumping along on the country roads with some person on my tail, the countryside was beautiful, and I saw a lot of wildlife. Tommorow I’m trying a different route though, which should hopefully be less in the country. Some much better roads. I hope it goes well.

Long Weekend

The long weekend kind of snuck up on me. I didn’t realise it was Easter weekend until my sister contacted me earlier in the week to say she could come round for the bank holiday if I was free. It was pretty awesome to realise I would have four days off work. Friday and Saturday I switched between chilling out and cleaning. I’d been feeling aweful all last week- headache – and so appreciated the rest and the fact I could slowly go through my chores, no rush. Well, apart from the fact my sister was coming on Sunday. She turned up around lunch on Sunday. We ate, a simple lunch of butternut soup and bread, then we went to a local park for a walk. Of course, the weather was aweful, cold and rainy, and our little walk was fairly short, both of us eager to get inside. We retreated back to mine and spent the rest of the day watching all of Michael McIntyre’s stand up dvds- which were very funny- and ordered takeaway for supper. (Vegan junkfood, yum.)

Today the weather was even worse – as it had snowed overnight. Is it not typical? Finally time off work and there’s snow. My sister and I headed out anyway as I had booked lunch. We shopped a bit then went to lunch. At a cat cafe. Yep, I finally got to go to a cat cafe. One opened at my old city just before I left so I never really had the chance to go. So when one opened in my new city I was determined to experience it. Food and cats – what could be better? It was my sister’s birthday recently so I thought it would be the perfect surprise celebration for her. (She loves cats too.) Of course, she figured it out before we got there. I’d told her I had a surprise for her birthday and to come round sometime for it. But on Sunday she asks me casually if we’re going to the cat cafe. She cannot be fooled :(

She was still excited though and happy I’d thought of it. We had an hour’s slot. Enough to have lunch and wander around the cafe several times trying to find cats, and trying to get them to approach us. Only once we had food did any of them come close to us. Typical cats. There were many of them and they were adorable but of course more interested in chilling out and doing their own thing than anything else. Just being there, and occasionally succeeding at petting the kitties was enough though. The whole atmosphere of the place was just wonderful- with how they’d designed it, all comfy armchairs, cat and local scenery themed decor, and cat towers and mini waterfalls they could drink from, and cat shelves and wooden walkways between then, but also so many different kinds of people, all going loopy over these cats no matter what age or how they looked or whatever. The food was yummy too and they had wonderfully named mocktails – I had a kitty floss and my sister had a cattitude. It was, basically, awesome. And a perfect indoor activity too. So nice to be out the cold and the rain and spend an hour in a room full of cats with my sister. (my favourite animal and my favourite person, respectively.) We shopped a bit more then headed home. Thankfully despite overnight snow it rained all day so it was still miserable weather but easy to drive at least.

My sister went home and then I spent my evening not doing very much, and feeling a little nervous about work tommorow. It’s easy to fall into this altogether more pleasant routine – sleeping late, idling the day away, doing the bare minimum, eating too much Easter chocolate etc.

Beast from the East

Countryside today.
I think I’m pretty much over the snow now. It has not been an enjoyable process going from the Southern Hemisphere (warm, sunny, dry) to the Northern Hemisphere (snowy, cold, wet). I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the weather back home in South Africa, but as it turns out I was fine. I liked it even. Only some days, as the weather crept close or became around 30 degrees, became a bit uncomfortable. Otherwise it was a dry, comfortable heat, often with a nice little breeze to help. Nothing like the humid weather of Malaysia or Japan, which I do struggle with. I was quite happy with the weather in South Africa. The current UK weather? Not so much.

Ok, I admit, there was a part of me that was a little taken with how beautiful everything looked buried under a few inches of snow, but now it’s all turned to slush, and it has been and currently still is just too cold. I worked from home three days (!!!) last week. Was a bit nervous doing so, but the thought of driving terrified me and I felt too cold to try and battle with this city’s terrible bus network. (Who wants to wait 20 minutes for a bus when it’s below zero out there? Not me for sure.) So I stayed home, venturing out only as far as the shop down the road for a sandwich one lunch time. Today I went for a farther walk and I’m still cold several hours later, inside, with the heating on full.(Again, it was pretty, but also fairly slushy and too cold.) Tommorow I’m going to have to stop hibernating and brave the drive to work and I’m not looking forward to it.

I have a beautiful tan from my trip back home, and it’s so pointless, because I’m bundled up in sweaters and scarves and gloves right now.

Snow piled up outside my door during the week.

(On the plus side, I’m glad this weather has hit only now, therefore not impacting on my holiday. I had to drive to get to the airport, my route taking me on a motorway which people were stuck for 12 hours on…I think it was this Friday? The thought of being stuck like that is terrifying. I’m so glad I could avoid it all and just work from home…I’m lucky in that way…)

“It’s so painful, it’s so joyous, it’s so difficult, I’m yearning…”

I arrived back into the UK yesterday after two and a half weeks back home in Cape Town, South Africa. Where I was born, partially raised, and where most of my relatives are. It’s been a weird two weeks, there have been awkward moments, but also amazing moments, and it feels like I was just begining to settle into it all when I had to leave again.

It had been about seven years since I’d last been back. It’s a very long time and a lot has changed in that time. Two and a half weeks hardly feels enough to make up for it. (Though it is better than nothing, of course.)

In many ways, I have made peace with my dual nationality. Too South African to be British, but too British to be South African. I am South African/Scottish but I sound neither, and I can joke about that now. When we first immigrated to the UK I had no idea what was going on, I thought it was just a big fun holiday and everything would go back to how it was. Realising that it was not any such thing, that I would have to stay in a place where no one liked me and nothing felt familiar was pretty awful. I wanted to go home. For years I was determined that I would go back. I had no appreciation for adult concerns – finance, healthcare, social security. I was lonely and sad and I didn’t fit in and I just wanted to go home. Home became something magical to me, took on a brighter tinge. I wanted to escape back to what I had, which of course was wonderful and perfect. As I grew older I had to face reality. And now, coming back to South Africa and seeing the lives of my family there, I can appreciate reality even more. It was a good thing my parents did for me, to take me to the UK. Free healthcare and schooling and benefits are nothing to scoff at. No power cuts or water restrictions too. I have an independence that maybe I wouldn’t have, and I have a very good job, a very good home. I know these things. I was grieving for a long time, angry and sad and resentful, for the loss of what I could have been and the life I could have led, whatever that would be. I wondered how I’d look, if my personality would be more extroverted. I’d try to picture it, even though it’s impossible. But I’ve finally come through to the other side of my grief. The last stage is acceptance, right?

I have accepted the immigration and its benefits. and in many ways it’s freeing. It was brilliant going home with that acceptance. I could struggle to understand people in my home country and laugh it off. I could speak without feeling ashamed of my accent. I could embrace my otherness, and be a tourist in my home country, and not let it get to me. I surprised myself with just how well I did at not caring about it all. That was good. That helped a lot.

And I tried to enjoy being with my family, and reconnect with them, without all the miles and years between us getting in the way. Tried to have the same easy going acceptance of what is, is. That was a lot harder.

There is a distance, and it hurts. And it’s not just that, it’s hard to be with someone on borrowed time, hard to slip back into their lives and then out again. Especially as my grandparents grow older I am left sitting there wondering – is this the last time? There is a pressure to have everything just so, because of the limited time, and it ends up feeling a little forced and sometimes, yes, it was awkward. Wearing a mask and putting on your best behaviour. It shouldn’t be that way, really. We don’t really know each other, but yet they are family, and I love them, and I know they love me, despite all the thousands of miles between us, and I can’t bare the thought of losing them. I lost two of my grandparents in the last seven years, without being able to say goodbye, and I’m not sure I could do that again.

Even as practically I can appreciate my privileges and all that I have, nothing can take away the pain of having to say goodbye to your grandmother at the airport, not knowing if it’s the last time you will ever see her. It just hurts. It’s a stone embedded in my heart, a wound that won’t heal or allow itself to be erased. It’s home, and that’s just the way it is, and although I have boxed up my grief and loss and tucked it away, it’s still there.

I want to go back, I don’t want to go back, I should go back, I shouldn’t go back, I can go back, I can’t go back.

It feels like I’ve just been woken up from the most beautiful dream.

My head: it’s ok. Time to get on with reality.

My heart: I want to slip back into that dream.

(Home is still something slightly magical, something otherly to me. I said to my coworker before I left that it, the holiday, won’t feel real until I see Table Mountain appear out the plane window as we circle to land. But I lied. It never felt real. There was so much that was so wonderful, and South Africa is just too beautiful for words. I love my home and I hope I can go back again, just have this at least once more…)

(Why does it have to be so expensive and time consuming to go home? It’s so frustrating.)