Tuesday, January 03, 2012

cynical resolutions

Fuck. It's fucking January.

Happy New Year to all those with big hopes and dreams for 2012. And to those too, like myself, who are feeling slightly more cynical about the whole affair.

It's January. Meh. Meh OK. January in the UK is the reason why people immigrate back to South Africa. It's mostly a frightful time of year.

Not because I saw hundreds of very sad looking Christmas conifers being blown about in the wind, discarded at people's doorsteps. Or because I had to be back in the office today. Or that I realised the blouse I bought in Ted Baker still has the fucking tag attached to it, so it looks like I am a freeloading pilferer.

Have to be honest - I face this year with a certain dread. Most people were happy to see the back of 2011, not I. Here's why:

1) Another year ----> I'm older.
2) I have an operation next week on my uterus.
3) I'm still sick. Now on the antibiotics.
4) The Brit is going to Sweden tomorrow on business for a week
5) I have an aneurysm's worth of work to do between now and heading to South Africa.
6) Ah, South Africa. How do I handle you, I wonder.

Before I get into the convoluted feelings I have for my birth country, allow me to share our New Year's in Amsterdam. Before all the magic is completely thwarted by my post-Christmas depression.

It was probably the first trip to the Dam where I actually appreciated my surroundings. In times past, I was way too fucked to recognise my own name nevermind that I was in a Dutch city.

Sure, we indulged. But it was relaxed and low key. There was a time when I once visited Amsterdam and couldn't feel my legs for 4 hours.
Our New Year's was spent in an awesome bar-cum-club. But all very quaint and cutesy, if you can call club decor 'quaint and cutesy', WTF.

There was a rooftop terrace where we could watch the fireworks, which had been going off like gunshots throughout the day. There is a law in Holland that forbids fireworks on every day except New Year's Eve. So people were setting them off all over the shop.
Watching it all erupt from the safety of a rooftop was wonderful - mainly because you avoided injury and also because it looked what I'd imagine Beirut burning looked like.

Amsterdam was on FYE-YER.

We ate pancakes the size of my ass (which is 2 kilos beefier. I'll sit on you if you fuck with me), and at one time the Brit and I spent 3, or was it 4? hours in a sex shop, thereafter leaving with 55 quids worth of merchandise.

In our less-than sober states, we spent 50 quid in a sex shop. And we don't really recall why we needed, say, pulsating ass beads and luxury lube. Trust me.

And now South Africa. I'm freaking terrified. And I don't even know quite how I suddenly became more scared than excited, but I'm gonna need a Xanax if these anxiety levels don't sort themselves the fuck out.

Basically, it's a fear the unknown. I have never been away from South Africa for so long. I'm scared that I've been totally left behind. Or rather I've left it totally behind. I've moved on to the point of no return. I'm scared that all sorts of mixed feelings will come back. I'm scared nothing has changed. I'm scared too much has changed. I'm scared of the fact that many of my friends there have babies and picket fences and I cannot relate. I'm scared they cannot relate to my experiences here. And we aren't interested in each others lives at all. How can friends I grew up with for practically 30 years feel like strangers to me?

This is how: leave the country. Travel to over 20 new countries. Experience new things like living with manky Australians in a digs in the middle of a ghetto, move in with an Englishman, start drinking tea with your fish and chips. Start a new job. Start a new career. Basically start a whole new life.

So this is why I am nervous. The other side to this, of course, and this is why I haven't come back yet is, what happens if I don't want to come back to the UK? It's crossed my mind that the smell of the grass, the sun on my pasty skin, the freedom of driving a car, seeing my family might just make me take 5 steps back.

I've tried really hard to settle into my new little country. And I feel like I have adjusted accordingly. I like this place. What if visiting South Africa makes me unlike it?

What if I hate it? Where everyone's small-minded and stuck in a bubble they believe is the centre of the universe? And I fly back to London with a "thank fuck that's over?"

It's my best mates wedding. I'm one of her bridesmaids, and for that I can't wait. She's someone I am dying to see and polish off a bottle of wine with. A wedding is a great way to bind old acquaintances after all, so perhaps it's the best reason, if any, to visit home.

I'll also have a Brit with me. I'll need to show him things he hasn't seen before. Like rhino guano, Plett and real suncream.

Mixed feelings. And since it's about a month away, it's keeping me up at night.

PS: I haven't made a resolutions list. I'm feeling extra special cynical this year, to the point where I know making resolutions never works because they are always broken. All I care about is losing those two kilos on my backside so that I can show off my rump on the fucking beach.


Anonymous said...


I've been following your blog for a few years now as your social life in good ol' Jozi felt just like mine was when I was there in my 20's - a dose of nostaligia for me (in a way).

I've been in the UK for almost 10 years now and I have to say, I know exactly how you feel about emotionlly having 1 foot in each country. It seems to never change, sometimes just when you think you get the UK, you realise you actually don't. Equally you romanticise SA, but things are always evolving.

My last trip to SA (Nov 2011) found me feeling like I was in a serious third world country...but its the elements of familiarity that I miss the most (sun, space, customer service, braais) and the quality of conversations with people who know you because they really know you.

If it's any consolation though, you eventually settle into the flow of the UK (if you choose to stay). Your friends become your familiarity and after a while you actually start to look forward to the cosiness of fires, (mulled wine) and snuggling up in the wintertime.

Hope you start to feel better soon. It may just be S.A.D. you're experiencing, which thankfully is only seasonal.


Little Miss Medic said...

I know exactly how you feel. I have been in the UK for 15 months and haven't been to SA once. I am going back for good at the end of this month and am just as nervous. I never went back because I was sure I would slit my wrists arriving back at Heathrow, with grey, dark, rainy London awaiting me. I realise though that whilst everyone back home who is 30 is popping a baby, sporting a diamond rock or else partaking in some extreme sport, I have been travelling and living the life that everyone did in their gap year. There are more of us out there :) Plus you'll prob find that life is exactly as you left it back home.


Peas on Toast said...

Thanks both of you, seriously! it's good to know I'm not the only one with one toe in Africa and one foot on Mud Isle.
Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Was thinking that I was being a drama queen about the whole thing and wondered if it's normal to feel strange and anxious about the whole thing, and turns out it's normal. YAY!

So thank you xxxx

Anonymous said...

Peas, like you I have been living in Europe (ok, the UK ain't Europe) - Berlin to be exact. But my heart yearns for ZA. I am from Cape Town though - the most beautiful city around - like hello!

My job keep me here - moving to Brussels in a few months. I've just come from a 2 week vacation in the Cape and I would trade all the first world trappings of Germany, the UK, or fucking Belgium for a chance to go back home.

People who bash ZA piss me the fuck off. As I boarded my connecting flight at LHR, hearing all those ZA accents, idiotic comments of ex South Africans bemoaning ZA, dreading having to spend a week in the third world. Those fuckers make me sick. Stay where you are, then. We don't need your type. (not you obviously :) tiresome.

ZA has its problems - all places do. So if people are so very unhappy with ZA, move the fuck out and stay the fuck out and shut the fuck up about it. End.