I moved to Cape Town when I was six after living in Robertson. This was shortly after my parents got married. In Cape Town, I moved three times, to be exact. The first house we stayed in was in the navy area of Simon's Town. My father worked in shipping at the time. The houses were in a little dollhouse formation; symmetrical and perfectly opposite to one another, churches, sports fields and stores all within a reasonable distance. I remember the house; the wooden front door would lead you into the spacious kitchen area that lead you into the dining room and the living room with a fireplace we often sat in front of in winter, watching soap operas and dipping bread into soup. My bedroom was still mine at the time; scattered with toys, scrap paper I wrote stories on and dolls who I would give funky haircuts to. The bathroom was a light blue and the house had an ocean theme to it; seashells in frames, ceramic anchor decorations and blue tablecloths. We were so close to the sea that every morning walking out of the front door was like a quick trip to the beach. I had started school too, an English speaking school, but thanks to a lot of assistance, patience and books, I started learning English at six and I was fluent at the age of eight.
The next house we stayed in was a flat close to Longbeach Mall. This is where I shared rooms with Enya. We shared a lot of things actually; toys, clothes, books, Sims games. She was a brand new addition to the family and I was getting used to her, so sharing a room couldn't have come at a better time. This was between the ages of eight to ten. I have to admit, these were not some of my fondest years; I was getting bullied at school and even though I'd cry myself to sleep at night or not want to go to school, coming to this home was a safe haven. Playing games with my sister was a scapegoat and this was when I realized how important family really was, despite only being ten years old.
Sun Valley was a blessing; we stayed in a spacious house where Enya and I both got our own rooms again; we had a lemon tree that no one bothered to use but everyone took pictures of for their Instagram aesthetics. I spent my afternoons lazing in the living room watching telly, or swimming in the pool in the backyard with friends. Friends were a big part of my life here. A majority of primary and beginning of high school years were wasted trying to fit in. Though I was no longer being bullied, fitting in seemed like a must for most of us at this age - for me, it was merely an act to prevent getting bullied again. School was better as well; I had made loads of new friends and my house had become one of the go-to houses for hangouts, sleepovers, pool days and movie nights. I was so happy here as this house, the area it was in and the people I befriended started shaping me into who I wanted to become. Fish Hoek beach wasn't too far away and despite the numerous warnings about sharks in the area, friends and I would always go up the catwalk and go swimming as soon as the flags were taken down.
|Fish Hoek. Credits to Fish Hoek Beach Photographers.|
I didn't think it would happen, to be honest. Moving was an empty promise, a pipe dream, as it's something I'd always been told was going to happen but it never did - until I came home after school and my house was no longer mine, but someone else's. Boxes polluted every room, the back of the door in my bedroom which had previously been filled with letters friends had written in markers, highlighters and glitter pens had been repainted, walls were being repainted, there were strangers walking in and out declaring what they wanted to do with my home. I was furious because it felt like an invasion, sad because I realized it was becoming real and frustrated because there was nothing I could do, but I realized I needed to let this go in order to find peace with what was happening.
So, on 23 December 2013, my little body boarded a plane, stared philosophically out of the window and stepped out onto Dutch territory. Ironic that I was moving, given that I had visited Amsterdam in the spring of 2012. This post is not going to go into my life here but trust me when I say that it is a good life, it is a luxury to be able to travel as often as I do and I am happy here - which to me is the most important thing. However, I miss you, Cape Town, you've taught me so many things.
The first is kindness. Kindness towards myself, those around me and the earth. Most of your people are good people - even the ones who are classified as bad have good in them. We take care of one another because it's a human thing to do. When townships or certain areas burn down due to the rough summer heat and sometimes cases of arson, we stand together as a community. We attempt to take care of our oceans, fund-raise for our schools, for certain people who need our help.
Sustainability is one of the most important lessons you've taught me. I'm terrified at the rising levels of water restrictions, I know so many people praying for rain. Living in Cape Town taught me to take care of what I own, get rid of what I don't need as clutter creates chaos and to be careful with resources. I don't even live in Cape Town anymore but I make a conscious effort not to waste food, to save water, to recycle and to donate. You've taught me that I need to take care of the earth so it can take care of me, and for that I'll never not thank you.
The meaning of friendship. I used to be a popular girl. I say used to because I don't believe in labels like that anymore; those were other people's preconceived ideas of me due to who I associated myself with at the time. Moving taught me that popularity doesn't equal friendship because when you leave, only a handful will truly stay in touch. Sure, I didn't need moving to help me realize that but it definitely gave me insight on what I wanted in a friend and more importantly, the kind of friend I wanted to be. I have five friends from a group of almost thirty girls (yes, three zero) that I still stay in touch with on a regular basis and I couldn't be happier - quality over quantity.
The last one is my favourite, and one I will always remember to be. Cape Town, you've taught me to be grateful - leaving has been a huge eye opener. Living in a first world country where most people I know take almost everything for granted is not only shocking but extremely sad. I am no longer bothered by not having something that is the latest trend as I've come to realize it doesn't matter as much as we tend to hype it up to be. Of course I have my moments where I splurge a little more than necessary, but I think the key is knowing how to appreciate what you already have. Here in the Netherlands, most people I know want more of almost everything but they're not satisfied with what they already have, so I wonder what makes them think they'd be happier with twice the amount.
I love you, Cape Town. For your life lessons, your gorgeous towns, the view from Chapman's Peak, Sunday strolls in Kalk Bay, walks up Table Mountain, swimming in your oceans (despite constantly being being at risk to get bitten by a shark), markets in Hout Bay, shopping at Cavendish, annual runs on the sand dunes, your communities; whether they're people driving fancy sport cars and talking about dinner parties they will never get around to hosting, or your beautiful townships with lively music and gap-toothed smiles. Your diversity is astonishing. Thank you for shaping me, for helping me grow, for preparing me for where I am now.
Until we meet again.