With the magic of Google (thank you, Google maps), I was able to locate the exact tree under which I sliced the soft skin of my foot, of which I still bear the scar. I was six years old when I was stood on a broken piece of glass, and all I saw and felt was never-ending blood.
I love that the tree is so well maintained, and clearly loved with that bright red ribbon.
If I close my eyes and travel back, I smell banana yoghurt as well as choc chip, I remember ballet lessons, being left out of my 8 year birthday party (all my friends wanting to play with my sister), a red bicycle, and a broken collarbone. I remember wooden floors and happy times. Sitting in the backseat of the car holding a tea towel over my bleeding foot, all the while it was getting soaked.
And the Friday after my birthday we left school early, moved from my home town, away from my best friend (who for some reason must have not been at my party), and to the big lights of the city (Johannesburg). Away from the beautiful tree, and the best school ever. Jenny, David, Angie.
The last few years living in Johannesburg were bittersweet. I was married (!), and had two beautiful babies. My dream life had come true. We both had work, some savings, a home to live in, and a wonderful nanny for our children. My family was close by. Everything was as it should be. My mother-in-law was still alive, and we often used to drive to her on Saturdays (in the neighbouring city), and stay the night. Those were the best times. We had an amazing connection.
And Johannesburg thunderstorms are the best. And shopping at Sandton City.
But. Even though everything was perfect, it was not. Always, always an unsettled feeling. We could be murdered today. Hijacked or raped. Or all of the above. Locked in the trunk of the car to die. And, if we lost our jobs it could be difficult to find another. In time, it would become increasingly difficult and eventually impossible. What about our children? The prospects were too frightening to think about.
A constant, underlying, unsettled feeling.
Exploring the city – May 1998
One of my best friends arrived in Sydney from Johannesburg yesterday. They made the brave decision to leave friends, family and everything they know behind, and start somewhere new. It will be our ninth anniversary later this year. I think back on those first days, the up and downs, the mixed emotions, the craziness of learning to swim in a new pool. Everything so scary, and so exciting too. The best thing was the feeling of safety. To park my car and know with a fair amount of certainty that I will be able to return to it, and that it will still be where I parked it. Nine years on and I feel so very blessed, so thankful that doors opened for us when they did, and allowed us to create a life in a safe and peaceful land.
Australia is its own island, and has only been good to us.
“Searching for trust
In a city of rust”
(John Lambert Ghost Town)
This song was playing repeat on the radio in Johannesburg. I miss Joburg! The music, the djs that I still remember on the radio stations, driving everywhere, Sandton City, visiting my dad, seeing my sister and nieces, Wimpy coffee and You magazines. And Woolworths.
In two weeks of driving I received a traffic fine. Driving 71km/h in a 60km zone. What can I say, in Sydney I use the bus service most of the time. No driving for me. But in Johannesburg, my car is my legs.
Before I fly. My family want me back.
The past week the neighbor in the Johannesburg office has been very welcoming and friendly. Appreciated by myself as I have had so much to do, and so much going on, it is good to see a friendly face. We get on like a house on fire. Today we worked out he is the brother to the woman who married my college sweetheart. We are connected. I’ve seen his sister (1998), she has spoken to me. Actually she hates me. But that’s beside the point. It is a small world!
Rushing from one place to the next..