Scary stories from a lovely place
One year ago today Stephen, Silas and I boarded a Malaysia Airlines flight from Johannesburg to Sydney. It had been an epic few weeks of administration and tying up loose ends, praying for the arrival of Silas’ birth certificate, packing, culling, saying goodbye and feeling confused and desperate.
It doesn’t feel like a year since we’ve been back here in Australia, rather much less. I lived in Joburg for 3 and a half years and that felt like forever. Our time here has been a blink of the eye.
This time discrepancy could be because from our second day here we have been caring for two demanding babies who have now grown into rambunctious toddlers. It could be because we don’t yet feel settled. This doesn’t yet feel like home.
I actually feel quite foolish that while I was in Joburg I missed Australia so much, but now that I am back here I have a Joburg shaped hole in my heart. It’s a problem of fantasy. While in Joburg I had idealized here, now that I’m back and it’s not all I had imagined it was, I am idealizing there.
Last week was unseasonably warm and I had some moments of pure joy at the beach with my little boys. I love seeing old friends – it might not be a novelty for them to see me, but it still is for me to see them. These are wonderful things about being in Australia. But then of course there are lovely people in Joburg who I would love to share a pint of Stella on 7th, a cup of earl grey, slice of lasagne or car ride with. And there are special places to visit and experiences to be had that we can no longer partake of.
It’s a bit of a jumble.
One of the things that has struck Stephen and I since we have been here in Australia is the way us Aussies complain about anything and everything. I think it’s been particularly confronting for Stephen who grew up in Dublin before the boom and then South Africa – so saw some real difficulties of life. It’s irritated me too, but I’ve slipped back into it pretty easily – hence I am considering renaming this blog KimcomplainsaboutleavingJozi.
Life here is good, right? The sun shines, the ocean sparkles, the trees are green, there is space, clean water, smooth (but sometimes cruel) bureacracy, clean streets, safe cities and one of the developed world’s strongest economies and lowest unemployment rates. But that doesn’t stop us complaining about how little money we have (despite all the stuff we own), our families, the government, the opposition, our job, our kids and the weather.
As well as this, lots of people seem genuinely really unhappy. There’s a disconnect somewhere here and I’m yet to figure it all out. Stephen thinks it’s got something to do with the strict road rules.
In conclusion – happy to be here, I think. Still missing Jozi, but trying not to complain about it.