I think it might have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, keeping a tiny flicker of hope in my heart that I would find the type of love one is sold from a very young age. The kind of love which overshadows circumstance and convenience, the kind of love which makes you conscious and sensitive towards someones else’s happiness – putting theirs above your own. Somehow I found so much more; a man who makes me see the selfishness of my ways, the emptiness of my anger, the essentialness of kindness, making me want me to want to be a better person. I didn’t even know that being loved and love could feel like this. No fear or paranoia or power games. There is so much I have to write, and I have this need to pen it all down – not unlike my best friend who I met because of these very pages – Sexy RedFrame! Its been a decade, a decade of stumbling, heartbreak, loneliness, even comprising my dignity sometimes to escape loneliness but also bravery and friendships and adventures and happiness and success on my terms and finally her words of encouragement and hope ring true – you can find the love you deserve!
It is raining in Seattle. Fall has begun, and it is beautiful. Its been my favourite part about moving to the US – this time of year and the Pacific North West, in particular, becomes a snowglobe of startling beauty! We were married o the 1st of September in a beautiful Catholic church in Brooklyn New York. I wore a white lace dress with substantial bell sleeves and carried a bouquet of King Proteas and dark Madonna roses. We used confetti made from the last bunch of roses he brought me before we left Seattle. My Dad was in his kilt, and my Mom wore a dazzling emerald green dress, my brother; tall and handsome delivering his reading in a manner which made my heart want to explode with pride, my best friend a vision of grace and elegance. All I really remember about walking down the aisle was a desire to get to my husband to be, my brooding, sexy man with the softest eyes and hold his hand. It really was the most perfect unorchestrated day!
Its 6.20 on a Wednesday morning in downtown Seattle. My apartment still feels like a hotel room, a place suspended in a temporary abode. I know it will change once my furniture arrives from South Africa. All my bits and pieces I have saved and looked after, from my happy childhood home in Boskruin Johannesburg to my own little house in Sundowner with the rambling rose bushes and lemon trees. To the home full of empty hopes in the Winelands. To my city apartment in Soho with big city lights and an abundance of life and finally to the place I was the happiest; my sea facing, light dancing seagull singing, promenade beauty embracing, Winchester mansion scone and champagne indulging, flat in Sea Point. Yes, all said in one breath.
Here I am, now in Seattle – a new life – some more big city lights and an abundance of life – but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. It’s been two months of sparkling surrealness. Seattle’s beauty is so much in the way nature dominates this modern ever growing ever-changing city. I had an Uber Buddhist driver one day taking me to work, he said he finds a calmness in the culture of Seattle he hasn’t seen elsewhere. It’s almost bizarre in hearing such a statement looking around at all these skyscrapers, but I get it. It’s intuitive design, smart living.
KEXP my new favourite radio station; described as ‘Eclectic’ I haven’t see the word eclectic for quite some time. I haven’t felt the desire to listen to the radio for ages. There is a preservation of old school in Seattle, the birthplace of hipster is merely the success of our generation wanting to remember a simpler, romantic way to celebrate angst and gritty beauty. Mayonnaise by Smashing Pumpkins is playing, followed by JoyDivision then Nick Cave, this makes me so happy. I remember the excitement of old-school Barney Simon on Radio 5, (If it’s too loud, you are too old) recording what he was playing by placing my tape recorder against the speaker of my radio. The thrill is the same, but I’m still on a high of firsts!
I ask Alexa her about the weather today; ‘Very sunny’ I haven’t yet adapted to Fahrenheit…one day.
So the prognosis looks good – sunny day, good music, I’m up at the break of dawn – WTF!
But for the first time in two months, I feel tired. I think the steady influx of awe, newness, stimulation, happiness and excitement is taking a bit of a toll – maybe another hour of snoozing will do some good!
I don’t want to forget that my Dad always had stamps, always. There wasn’t a single occasion when I needed stamps, and he didn’t have them – he favoured those charity stamps in particular. I’m pretty sure if for whatever reason I found myself back home and in need of a stamp – he would have one.
I also never want to forget that my Mom would sing to me while she brushed my hair; “All I want is a room somewhere… lots of chocolates for me to eat.” There was this one spot in her bedroom where a ray of sunshine would appear at a particular time of day, next to the Romeo and Juliet balcony with its creeping dark red, climbing roses. I don’t want to forget that bedroom with its soft white carpets, the lit candle on her dressing table when my Granddad died. The little dog – in – a – cup ornament and the white enamel heart that contained all her special jewellery. How I loved that room – its white and pink warmth – the place of safety in the middle of the night when nightmares of clowns would have me running into the reassuring sounds of snores and ticking clocks.
Then there were our morning routines; my Mom’s pride and joy; the alarm clock tea maker! Bubbling to a happy frenzy at the allocated time of 6am. She would bring us breakfast trays. Tea, Weetabix, toast. I would reprimand her for pouring the milk on too soon and arriving with mushy slabs where there was once crunchy bricks, so she started to bring the milk in a tiny little jug. Spoilt children, devoted Mother doing all she could to get us to eat. I was never a big eater, eating was a chore. I would sit for hours on my own in our red linoleum kitchen staring between the tiny openings of the kitchen door that allowed me to see a slither of the TV while I sat in front of a plate of cold food I just couldn’t bring myself to eat. I would feign an upset stomach, call my Mother a darling angel – every trick in the book was used to get off that bar stool and into the cosiness of the lounge.
I have never forgotten how my Mom always reminded me of the story of the Ginger Cat who would spend his days chasing a spot of sunshine to lie in. I still see that cat in my mind every time I see this gorgeous, surprising little ray of sunshine finding its way into an otherwise dark room.
I follow this girl on Instagram, one of these beachy blonde yoga social media queen types, she has tattooed on her wrist ‘Just Be’ and wears a watch that points at NOW – there is this fashionable trend in life philosophy at the moment – to be in this moment and nothing else. Just be – but there is a sacredness to my memories that I want to hold onto.
For a couple of days, I was trying very hard to beat back the sadness with a stick. It was a genuine battle, and I invested a good amount of energy and resources in finding weapons. I wrote I drank, I smoked weed. I surrounded myself with people, I kissed, I flirted – I danced recklessly with my sadness, trying to shake it off by the sway of my hips and the stamp of my feet.
It was that state, in-between waking up and still being asleep that my happiness returned. It was in thought. Anything is possible. Anything can happen. Suddenly I believed it, and my joy returned like an old friend, and I remembered the songs that made my heart lighter and I found myself dancing on my own with a smile on my face.
My happiness is now peppered with moments of sadness, rooted in nostalgia and clearly identified fears of loneliness, but it’s getting less and less, and the joy is feeling fuller and thicker, like a grandfather’s over-worn cardigan – perfect for winter.