Monday, October 5, 2009


I sat out on the back deck late tonight. The sky was pale and bright, and the trees were inky black, and a star shimmered, cradled perfectly in the boughs of the fir tree at the edge of the garden. I heard crickets, and a plane growling past overhead, and the whoosh of a car sliding by on the road next to our house. It was all so peaceful and calm.

I thought of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Mr London Street, who said of a blogger he usually reads, "but she's fallen in love now, and her posts are all kittens and moonbeams and who can read that sh** day after day? It's all so damned dull." He moaned with frustration, just a little bit. Because having a regular columnist go wonky is just ever so frustrating, really. One's usual reading diet is ... altered.

And woe, there is me. Or I. Woe is it all. For I have not much to say at the moment, because I've fallen in love again with my husband, and my lovely life, and the world and its people, and I can't find fault with any of it. How feckin' dull is that?

Two and a half years ago, in the winter, I lived for a short few months in a mansion in Sunninghill. Fourteen rooms, a huge place, vacant. The owners needed someone to make it look "lived in." For £500 a month, it was mine. I volunteered. It was me and the Aga. That was it. The only two warmish entities in the house, with the Aga putting out significantly more heat than I did, my skin and bones just barely alive. I was heartsick, alone, bereft, and definitely a mess. I had ditched my husband, finding him all stubborn and boring and hateful, and I had decided to go it alone.

But why?

Why was I there? Why was I suffering, sleeping in an empty fourteen-room house, radiators turned down to "1" to save heat, sleeping on a mat in an empty bedroom, crying myself to sleep each night. Why?

What was I doing?

Ignoring my children, certainly. Having nightmares about guns and Africans. Avoiding bill paying, college tuitions, dentist appointments. Dreaming and remembering, horrified, the sound of the snap, snap, snapping of our electric security fence in Jo'burg. Evading phone calls from my estranged husband. Hearing all over again the screams of the woman next door as she was attacked, seeing again the SAPS team, scrambling over our walls with their automatic weapons, trying to secure the area.

Unable to read a book, there in Sunninghill. No knitting, no hobbies. No television, no computer, no internet. Just me, in the dark. Crying. Drinking. Sleeping.

What the hell was that all about?

I cried myself to sleep every night, and in the morning I woke up to a dusting of snow across the garden, and windows frosted half-high with starry patterns. The sun crept over my sill, glowing pale and illuminating the room with a wan light that signified nothing more than another wretched day of ... nothing. Work. Talk. Teaching. Nothing.

It was awful. And yet I didn't throw myself off a bridge, or do anything too dire. Because I was just too, too tired. It was really another me, then. Not me. Someone else.



SkylersDad said...

Wow, I didn't know of your life in South Africa. I am glad you came out the other side and to us so we could follow you and come to know you.

expateek said...

Thank you, Chris. Really, thanks. I've been feeling kind of "off" lately, and it helps to know friends are out there. Funny, that awful week defines my life in so many ways... a moment or three that marks before and after. I'm thinking a lot these days about what life really means, and about what kind of difference I want to make. Jury's still out at the moment. Anyway, xxx

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

I liked this post a lot.

expateek said...

Tennyson -- thank you very much for that. Again, I'm not quite myself these days; don't know what's up, really, just feel rather disjointed and out-of-body-ish... or out of blog-ish-ism?

So, very happy to hear from you, from your other end of the world vantage point. Love your posts, you are too thoughtful. Which is a good thing, mark my words.

Anonymous said...

I quite like reading postings from people who are happy and I tend to think it's only dull if you tell it dull. You don't - and I'm glad that you're in a good place, even if that wasn't always the case.

Harmony said...

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

Lola Lakely said...

Wow, this is a really intense post, beautifully written. "Hearing all over again the screams of the woman next door as she was attacked, seeing again the SAPS team, scrambling over our walls with their automatic weapons, trying to secure the area." What a horrific yet striking image.
Thank you so much for sharing.

ladytruth said...

Ah, yes; Gauteng the City of Crime indeed. We only go there if we really, really have to. It's like something out of the new Terminator movie where you avoid going to Killing Central at all cost. Glad to hear you're happier and in a happier place in your life.

I have something for you over at my blog :)

Tom Goette said...

Very powerful post with some very grim visions of the past. Well written and very thoughtful. Kudos to you for a great (and as a newbie blogger, inspirational) blog. Keep up the great work!

Suzy said...

I had that same existence in San Francisco many years ago. Living in a studio apt in the worst part of town, abandoned by my heroin addicted boyfriend, broke and lonely. I had Thanksgiving dinner in a diner down the street. There were so many other singles having the same meal I thought that you always think it's just you. But it's not.

Iota said...

Wow. I don't know if 'enjoyed' is the right word, but I enjoyed reading this.

Life is full of different seasons, isn't it? That's always worth remembering.

Island1 said...

Hey. Wake up.

Eileen said...

I'm glad where youa re at the moment is safe, at least. Hoping time and a crisp fall and your people will help you through this. Everyone is off at times. Doesn't have to be the end-all.

Wishing you well.