Life is strange. One thing I have learned is never say never say never, because there’s no such thing as an absolute. There really isn’t. Rules are meant to be broken, within the framework of reason at least.
I suppose I have never obeyed conventions and rules well. Always the outsider.
In primary school, too smart.
In boarding school, too poor.
In university, too rich. And too foreign (not Californian).
At Jeeves, too young: the baby prodigy.
Then I moved to Boston and for the first time in my life, I was normal. And I loved it. For the first few years at least. I remember one day, waking up in Natick in the middle of the night and thinking “I love my life.”
But fast forward a few years later and I was really miserable, and miserable for a long time, and I didn’t even know it. That’s what scares me. I was normal. I thought I was happy.
I kept myself busy. Full time job, and first finishing my undergrad degree and then MBA from Babson, both at least another 20-25 hours a week. Funny, I had a Skype call a few weeks back with one of my MBA classmates. Unbeknownst to me, the consensus of the rest of the class was that I was the smartest one in the room. I honestly never thought so, and probably would have given that prize to Tom Hoole who made some connection in our macroeconomics class in a microsecond that I had to take five minutes to think through.
That sort of thing impresses me. What else impresses me is kindness, being genuine, intelligence (duh). A few years ago I wrote a post called What I Like.
Funny. That list? I can’t think of a single thing I’d add or take away. It is pretty much perfect as it is.
Oh there is one thing I’ll add. I really enjoy teasing and being teased. I think because you can only tease when you have such a deep level of understanding and respect, which only comes with healthy relationships.
And I still love peonies (and long-stemmed red roses).
I can now add telecoms, policy work, and Johannesburg to my list of loves.
And again, I am different. To be an expat always makes you a bit different, sure. But I’m also a female in tech, and a female in telecoms, and a CEO. All of which are pretty rare, and I’m again the exception. Which, in its own way, I suppose, makes it normal.
So the more things change the more they stay the same. I moved to Joburg, yes, and my word do I love it here. The weather, the people, the gardens…. But more to the point, the spirit. This is the beating heart of the economy and this is where decisions get made and this is where the important people are and so, this is where I want to be.
The irony is that six months after leaving Cape Town I have never more wanted to be spending more time in the Western Cape. Life – any time you think you know what you’re doing it sets you straight now doesn’t it?
When I started off, I didn’t want to leave Johannesburg. The whole city and country shuts down from around 10 December to 10 January but I really do love Jozi with a passion, in the way of a new lover I suppose because everything is novel and the city can be charming if you are looking for the charm.
But leave I had to because I had two weddings to attend in the Cape Town area. One was my dear friend Hes, whose bachelorette I had flown to the weekend before (because how could I not??) and the other was Adam, who I’ve employed for two years.
Actually when I flew down for the weekend for Hes’ bachelorette when she first saw me she started crying. These are the moments I live for, actually. As I said, how could I not come? But for her it was a big deal, and since I love her dearly, what on earth could be more special for me than to know that I’d made her day special by my mere presence?
This was kind of a special trip in another way because the red tape patrol that I am so familiar with finally delivered some unexpected good news, temporarily making Paarl the happiest place on Earth for me. And the lovely lady at SARS even recommended a fantastic coffee shop with both good coffee and good food; I will someday have to go back and thank her!
But that aside, what a trip! As I said above when I was getting on the plane at Lanseria I was actually not entirely keen for the trip. My heart and mind was in Johannesburg with the business and I wasn’t really ready to shut down. I just wanted to keep working, and part of me had every intention of continuing to work when I got to Cape Town.
Didn’t quite turn out like that. Not even almost. It was a busy social schedule, yes, but it turns out I was also very ready to unplug and do something else.
Birthday drinks & dinner for Phil (which included getting parking on Long Street, across from The Grand Daddy, at the heart of summer. Yep, I can be lucky at times), including a reconnection with the lovely and insightful Alison, which then led to a fantastic hike.
Hiking is something that I love but don’t do often enough because … not sure. But I do adore it.
Doing my yearly holiday workout, Linda, at Cape CrossFit, and smashing my time by over 5 minutes (would have been 7 except that I failed a damn bench press trying to get sub-20 minutes!).
Cocktails & braai with the lovely Kelsey and her always interesting friends.
A Twelve Apostles date with my great friend Caryn. After lunch we went up to the garden where I read about 20 pages of the DTPS’ Policy Options paper and she took a nap …. And then I took a nap, too, because there is nothing quite like sleeping outside!
Drinks & olives on the balcony of my upstairs neighbour, during our last few days of being neighbours.
My second experience with the SA Navy obstacle course in Simon’s Town in the morning and a wedding in the afternoon/evening.
Meeting a South African who knows more about American football than I do, and likes it for the same reasons. He doesn’t like the Patriots. But I can forgive that.
A suddenly close friendship with a woman I’d only met the week before.
Funny how some relationships can form so quickly, if there’s the right chemistry and mutual interests!
A post-wedding brunch, followed by riding around in the back of a bakkie, giant ice creams, a walk on the beach, a quick swim, and back into Cape Town for a dinner with Anita including giant prawns and a spectacular sunset.
Beach workouts on consecutive days with the crew from Ballistix. And their year end function. And a braai which included overhead squats … as such things tend to do when you put CrossFitters together with a barbell.
On my last day in town, I packed my apartment, threw out or gave away a bunch of stuff, and got it ready for the movers. That had an air of finality about it. It felt really good, like a spring cleaning in summer.
The apartment in Vredehoek I loved, and there are lots of memories of that place. But it had one very bad attribute which I only realised later on, as a metaphor, of course. But that aspect that I originally loved, of being able to see green out of all the windows, actually made the space closed in.
If there’s one thing I need, it’s perspective. And perspective, for me, comes with a view. I think it’s why some of my “go to” places to eat brunch & work in Cape Town are the Grand in Camps Bay and the Rhodes Memorial restaurant. Both of those have a view.
In Joburg, there is the garden I sit in almost daily. If you can’t see past the end of your own nose how can you be expected to see what’s coming and make a plan to deal with it, or, better, craft it into what you want?
The irony of all this is that as I got back on the plane to Joburg, I didn’t actually want to go. This time, I most definitely left part of my heart in Cape Town.
Life most certainly has a sense of humour, now, doesn’t it?
- “You are scary!” – Alex (I was telling him my plans for world domination!)
- “I looked at them and I said: ‘The weight of the state will come down on you.’” – on young activists in a certain African country
- “We’re not shivering because we’re cold. We’re shivering because we’re scared!” – overheard before the naval obstacle course
- “I do believe it’s the first time I’ve had to wash down a non-alcoholic drink with alcohol.” – Brian
- “I never used to drink. And then I started. And then I started less.” – Candice
- “Is Boston that place with the Ben Affleck accent that everyone makes fun of?” – can’t remember who said this but it’s funny
- “Just because you’re not the most evil is not exactly praise.” – Caryn
- “A biscuit wrapped in bacon is still not paleo!” – Ellie
- “Oh no. I didn’t realise peanut butter came with chocolate chips.” “It does.” “You just ruined my life.” – Ellie & Candice
- “I first learned about advisory stop signs in South Africa.” “What? Don’t they have them in America?” – Ellie & Candice
- “No, I wouldn’t worry. This is not that illegal.” – Ellie
- “What I may have done is put both curry and peri-peri in.” – Candice (cooking while drinking = dangerous!)
- “What gives you the idea that they’re big?” “They’re Cisco.” – Candice & Ellie
- “I’m totally programming kettlebell thrusters.” “I think I might be sick on Sunday.” – Ellie & Richard
- “I made a friend this week, but he doesn’t like the Patriots.” “Who are the Patriots?” – Ellie & Craig
- “But then again we have CrossFit girls. I don’t know how much girls eat.” – Richard (classic)
- “If men want to know, they find out.” – Lynne
- “But it can all change in an instant.” “Just like that!” – Ellie & Lynne