Saturday, January 11, 2014
Such is life!
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!