Scary stories from a lovely place
I’ve mentioned here and there that Stephen, Silas and I are moving soon from Johannesburg to Sydney. For me it’s going home. For Stephen it’s emigrating. Silas just hopes there’ll be hard surfaces to butt his head against. We’ve been preparing for months. We’ve sold our house and lots of our stuff. We have Silas’ papers all sorted out. Friday was Stephen’s last day of work. And during the week we booked tickets. Having aeroplane tickets for a definitive date feels like a big step. Now we really are going on the 14th May.
This will be the second time I’ve moved internationally. While this time it’s a bigger deal practically, it’s much less emotionally taxing than when I moved to Johannesburg in 2008. Moving so far away isn’t fun. The stress aside, it’s just bloody sad to say goodbye to people. Some people that I now know I will probably never see again. I will miss out on momentous occasions in other’s lives – weddings, babies, finishing uni. I’ve missed out on a lot of that in the lives of people back in Australia. But it’s not just those big moments. It’s conversations and dinners – the inanity of everyday, watching people grow and change and make good decisions. I’m more than happy to see the end of some relationships. Others are just now blooming.
Emigration is such a dirty word in South Africa. I never use it to describe what we are doing. And emigration to Australia is the worst. There are a lot of South Africans there. And there are a lot of South Africans here who were left behind by those gloating emigres heading off to the apparent paradise of Australia. It’s not that. There’s crime and violence and divisive racism and corruption. Australia isn’t a better place to live than South Africa. I know. I’ve lived in the biggest cities of both.
We’re going because we need help. We’re going because we want to be near one of our families. There are aspects of life here in Johannesburg that I will miss desperately. I will be very sad to say goodbye to people in two weeks time. But the prospect of being reunited with family and friends, meeting new nephews, catching up on lives and going to the beach at will mutes the sadness.