Pent up in a fancy hotel in Johannesburg – one of those places with excellent service from friendly men in waste coats and those fancy trolleys they wheel everything for you on. Awkward music in the elevators and an overpriced 24-hour room service menu.
Quite the contrast the the entirety of the last six-and-a-half months.
Looking through photos from my life in the motherland, that sickly happy-sad feeling of nostalgia creeps up. Oh, so happy it happened, oh, so sad it’s over.
My golly I have learnt so much.
There is no poetic, symbolic or metaphorical way to say it.
Africa has ripped me apart, taken everything I had inside and replaced it with something new.
Filled my heart with coconuts.
Mixed its sand with my blood.
Wiggled its way in like a matakenya worm, burrowing in with a relentless, painful determination. The extraction equally as painful and leaving a wound far too susceptible to infection.
What I now know as normal was once so foreign.
t’s scary to think of losing that.
All the places I have seen, all the people I have been.
All the lives I could have had.
Before I left, I marvelled at the fact that I was about to travel halfway across the world, merely to learn about myself. There is honestly, no possible way better.
The first lesson I have learnt is that I am strong.
I didn’t know it before. But somewhere in there, hidden amongst the one too many pizzas and knots of nerves and self doubt is the ability to get up and get on.
The second I have learnt is the importance of having time for everyone.
In another life that wasn’t me. I waited. Fringe dwelled. Sidled in when the conversation was already going. Now, I have learnt the value of opening my eyes to whoever is before me and regardless of who they may be, a rasta with tattoos on his face, a middle aged Dutch bar owner, a British fish farmer, a noisy Spanish chick, a youthful school teacher, an alcoholic South African who is a definite star of his own show; it’s not hard to find something in common and run with it…
Because you never know, there may be a moment when you realise these strangers are actually your people. That you have been missing them your entire life.
The third lesson is soul bearing.
Bearing my soul with complete honesty has only recently become my style. I have always been used to compartmentalising myself – certain sides for certain people. However, in a new found confidence, I can now see the value of presenting myself whole. Being who I am. Blemishes included. Stupid hairstyles. Closed in shoes in hot climates. Whoever it is that I am, assurance that the people that can handle it will. The people who can’t won’t and there’s no loss either way.
This is tied to a new realisation of the value of authentic relationships. Pretence will get you nowhere. To surround myself with the kind of people that would rather look me in the eye and speak in earnest than entertain me while looking away.
The fourth is to know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Everything in the universe is as it should be. Every time I doubt myself, every time the trees in the forrest become too tall, just trust that in the end it will all be ok. Every time you find yourself in a bar at 5am balling your eyes out because you feel betrayed, being cradled by a beautiful swedish girl and her overtly gangster boyfriend and his overtly gangster comfort of saying “that nigga aint worth yo tears” just know that at that moment, no matter how much you wish it wasn’t you, that it is as it should be. Good things are coming your way. Don’t fight it.
The fifth lesson is to love unconditionally.
When I have been wronged to try always to understand why a person behaves the way they do. If I have been hurt, to know that hurt people hurt people. To not be angry. To always look past the external bullshit, the stage show. To always do my best to see what is inside of a person. Not outside. To understand why people behave like they do, and love them for it. To not hate because you are hated. To not make someone suffer because you are suffering. To just love them as they are and hope for the best.
The sixth and final is to trust myself.
To know that I have my own back. That I can do it. That what I remember is real. That what I want is plausible. That the doubts are there purely for me to question and make my resolve stronger.
That I am me.
That I do what I want.
Goodbye my beloved Africa. I will miss you more than I can explain.