Saturday, January 11, 2014

Such is life!

I am about to head off to the frozen north again. I know, I can hear you asking - Why swap this wonderful, warm sunshine and these clear blue skies for the wet pavements and the grey thundery clouds of the UK? Anyone who is an alien here or has lived for a significant period of time on foreign soil will understand - It's all about roots and how we need to connect and reconnect with them as we journey through life. They say never look back but I think reflection is all about looking behind you - just  as when we look at our reflection in a mirror. What lies behind me, good and bad, has shaped me into who I am today and I am more than OK with that. I look around at the faces in my home country and I think,"These are my people - my clan." and while I know right now I cant be with them I do so love their familiarity and friendliness. I love the sense of belonging that being 'home' gives me and yet I belong here too in South Africa - when you emigrate you live forever torn into two.
At least every couple of years when I am back in my homeland, I am compelled to seek out the houses that I have lived in. My childhood home, remembered as a stately home of considerable size, turns out to be just a normal semi detached with a pocket sized front lawn. The area around it is now built up but in my memory's eye, I can see the fields and the cows grazing on my dad's vegetable patch.Happy times! There is nothing to beat the nostalgia of a whiz around the country lanes past my old school and into the fields that we ran through as children with a bottle of water and a bread packet of jam 'butties' as we explored our world - which really was as vast as the horizon our young eyes could see. In the summer holidays at least one of us six children limped home sopping wet after a days fishing in the brook while the rest ran ahead with a bucket full of tadpoles! These were taken back almost immediately to avoid a plague of frogs in the veggie patch.
The first house we purchased as a married couple now appears minute and the hard work put into establishing the pretty garden a waste as I survey the brickwork that has replaced it.
I gaze with wonder at the home I brought my fourth-born home to. Surely the walls are made of elastic to have been able to hold all six of us inside. Is that really the sapling we planted grown into a tall sturdy tree that holds a swing. Did we really allow our boys to cycle outside on that busy road?
Don't get me wrong I have no desire to return permanently to these places and not all of my memories are happy ones but I do miss the sense of community that I took for granted then and I remember a life that seemed so much simpler.
Progress is about moving forward not backwards and means letting go of possessions, situations and places - leaving family and friends behind is the hardest and an everyday reality in South Africa where the political situation has seen the exodus of a whole generation of young people that has splintered families.
Home is where the heart is and I regularly tell myself that wherever I find myself is where I am meant to be. For the last forty odd years, I had a wonderful travel companion and each crossroad that we stood at as we journeyed through married life led us down a new path - some more challenging than others to travel, but all of them marked our progress. I am alone now at the crossroads but I still have my compass to give me direction. I just have to trust it and continue my journey as it has been mapped out for me.  Who knows a decade from now I may be stood looking at this house and remembering what these walls held of mine.
Such is life!

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