The Motions

On Wednesday 15 December 2004, I sat down and “journaled” a piece of my mind at the time. Today I’d like to share those thoughts that I have now named “The Motions”. Here goes..

The Motionsimage

I have been through the motions, the ones I had heard happen to people in my disposition and yet no one dares to speak openly about. What puzzles me about my mind is that it knows to preserve what it finds useful and discard what it deems too unbearable to keep.

For instance, now that we have had our lovers’ spat, resolved it and dived back into love again, I can’t seem to recall all those feelings of aloneness and fright I felt when our love was in crisis. I love him, this man. He charms my fears into a trance and makes me believe I am much braver than I think. With him by my side, it feels as if I have always had the courage to pursue my heart’s desires. Sometimes it is almost as if I have always known him, always been his friend.

And to him I am the world; I allow him to be the knight he was told he could never be because no knave from his neck of the woods ever carried a sword.

Yesterday I was like driftwood, surveying the lay of the ocean aimlessly because of a broken heart. Today he is my hero, my promised once again. These motions are enough to make me sick.

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Song of Hope, Song for Us.

My mother used to hum and sing all the time. Wherever she was in the house, regardless what we would be going through or, more likely, be in dire need of, there’d be a song playing soundtrack to the scene of our lives. For years it annoyed me, partly because I myself was an unhappy person, largely because I didn’t understand it. It was something I never forgot though, something that would come to mean so much more to me in latter years.

I remember my first non-sensical humming outburst; we had been going for weeks without much food. Our bills were coming apart at the seams and there was no hope of some kind of reprieve in sight. In the midst of the proverbial scale of misfortune tilting southward, they cut off our water and left behind a little blue note.

I remember I picked up that little blue note from the gate and began my slow, painful walk back inside the house. A million thoughts raced around like my head was open season at Monaco and all I could sum up from the chaos in my head was that I had run out of options. My human mind had run out of ways to save the situation and my family.

My daughter was back from school already on that day; dinner was expected at 7 and I knew there would be clearing up and dish washing to be done afterwards. A bedtime story would need to be read sometime after 7.30. Someone would need to make sure all the doors and windows are bolted before the last light was switched off. The universe would get on with be business of being, thus rendering my self pity, my despair, null and void.

I looked around the house, my gaze falling on every one of the items still intact by some Grace and felt each possession speak back to me. They seemed to be recalling events that had occurred in our life together, the tea cups telling stories of so-and-so who wouldn’t let up on the milk or sugar, the framed photos chattering on about the moments that had bore them into existence. All of them seemed to have so much to say about our lives, yet none could tell me what to do to save us from sinking.

With a certainty I’d never experienced before, I began to hum. I hummed to silence the cluelessness filling the spaces in my heart, hummed to numb the pangs of loneliness and solitude I felt wrestling with our troubled life. There was so much to do and not much I could do, so I hummed. I belted out a melody so happy it made my belly sore to stop humming. It calmed me and crept beneath my heart, lay there and began to warm up the places above and beneath that sacred space.

That song that my mother sang in her hour of need may have not solved our problems, paid our bills or put food on our dinner table. Yet when I sang just as she had in my hour of need, I knew what she knew: that song was a war cry. That song was my rage against the dying machine: my infallible, vulnerable mind. That song was the best defense against a crumbling life.

So here’s my solemn word: as long as I live and breath, always and forever in my hour of need, I will let my nonsensical humming be heard by all who need hope. I will sing for me, for faith, for strength and even for you.image

Not Quite Dead Yet.

Life is ironic. It offers as many opportunities to rise and reinvent yourself as it takes away. The phrase, “on top of the world one day and down on your luck the next” is not an exaggeration but rather a reality many people face everyday. So I know for sure that I am preaching to the converted here: you know what I am talking about!

So let’s talk about something else here: let’s talk about the getting up after a stumble and fall. Few of us like this part much; we know we have to do it but don’t like it much. For one, to get up from a fall one has to trust that the same legs that led to a tumble are not going to fail one again and that they will instead offer steady support and allow a move forward. How unfair.

Here’s another viewpoint: you just may stay on your feet this time around but who ever will trust you to be competent on your feet again? Everyone saw you fall. They saw you lose balance, tumble and land on your back. Eyebrows were raised and heads turned away from the embarrassment. You were found out, made for the imperfect, sometimes off-balance fool you sometimes are. Too late to play dead now.

I fell pretty hard lately, figuratively of course. Everyone around me bore witness to my tumble and to when I landed flat on my flat behind. Dust filled the air and for a while my mouth as I choked for air and tightened my eyes closed. But after a while I could tell the audience had grown bored with spectating my demise. And so after much thought and consideration I have decided to open my eyes and deal with the consequences of failing again. I am not quite dead yet. Gonna be just fine.First Lady Promotes Youth Exercise With Olympians images semenya

House of Women

 

It’s a Goddess!!! We are excited. We couldn’t care less that we didn’t have a boy. In fact, it seems more fitting that a goddess was born in place of a king. Completes our “House of Women” in a way.

The night before she was born I knew the continuance I’d been audacious to ask from God had expired. I dreaded that it was the end of my pregnancy- I was not ready. What do I know about raising two children on my own? What if everyone (who isn’t any one of my wonderfully supportive sisters of course) was right to assume this would be my dismantling?

When I first had to decide between aborting, (giving up for) adoption and “winging it”, I naively thought a choice made in good faith would be less of a burden to my soul. However in choosing to “wing it” I have also chosen to raise a girl-child without a father. I have chosen the dreaded and all-so-infamous conversation between mother and daughter that always starts with “Why”, includes a repeated use of the words “my”,  “father”, “didn’t”, “love” and “me” and always, always ends in tragic heartbreak. I know- I am that girl-child myself. After the mess that had to be cleared so the healing would begin and rid me of the said tragic heartbreak, why would I make a choice that would put my own flesh and blood, the object of so much affection, through this?

These are the secret questions harboured beneath the bosoms of many strong, single women. We keep it together to make it up to our daughters; we know we should never be forgiven for what we have chosen for them and what they will have to go through because of us and our stupid, naive hearts. At the same time, we know that if given the opportunity, we would effortlessly choose Life above all again and again. We would sprint to choose it even if it meant watching our hearts shatter into a million splinters every time a promise is unfulfilled, a desire unrealized and a prayer said over and over with fervent faith is met each very time with the answer, “No, daughter for I have better plans for you” from Creation.

Perhaps I chose badly for my daughters. Perhaps I wasn’t as selfless and wise as I’d like to have been making those decisions. Perhaps chosing Life is less noble than I imagined. Honestly, I have no idea what the better idea would have been. Honestly, I believe still in my heart of hearts that everything happened just as it was meant to by the same seemingly ruthless, yet far more complex Creation.

It’s another Goddess! Let’s first start there. There is so much to enjoy and be grateful for in just that one revelation alone.

The Way Home

Home hasn’t been home since 10 June 2006 when my mother stood from the couch in our living room, walked out the door  for for the hospital and was brought back on the back of a shiny black hearse, but that is how things must be in this lifetime. And in my frustrations and grief for the death of a life I once knew, I yearn to return to a home, even if it is not anything like the one I used to have. So I ignore my sentiments and try to avoid the paths flanked with memories of her kind and beautiful face. And when I sight a vague reminder of the love in my departed father’s eyes whenever he’d move his glance to his wife’s kind and beautiful face, I look away and start to search for another path to take. That was home, the memories are home. But I can never go back to my home so I must seek another way to a home, some home.

So I kneel and weep myself into a stupor at the end of every hard day for six

years then rise at last when I can cry no more to call a gardner. A man who lives in my neighbourhood has a few ideas on what could be done to make the mess we call our garden liveable again. He sounds like he could know what he is doing and is only asking for R900 (about $118 US) for a complete overhaul of the whole story, so I take my chances and knight him my guide down his suggested path back home. He promises me that the exercise would be transformational, painless and done in no time- two days tops to be exact, he says. I begin to shuffle my feet forward and in no time am on a way home.

He brings in two “workers” he will be supervising to ensure that the work really will be done in two days. The garden looks splendind by sunset and the grimace on our parents’ house caused by its grief over the passing of its owners, the lovely and happy black couple with three young girls, begins to fade. Even still,  much needs to be done before home begins to look at least aesthetically familiar to me again and the gardner-man promises that another R150 (a mere $19,25) would help steer me onto the path home. They would clean the decaying roof and packed up gutters up for us for that price. Seems fair. Why not? So I merrily trudge forth down the path home.

Day two ends and I am beginning to feel more like an upstanding member of my neighbourhood, one who cares enough for herself to look like everyone else around her. We all know that closets are for secrets and they do not need to be tidied for anyone. Gardens however are the window to the soul of the family and no one tries to say a hearty “hello” to a neighbour whose window is still covered with the black ash dressing of mourning, just incase misery might just want company that day. “You will need to pay another R700 ($  ) to have the garden refuse removed from your front yard, ” says my miracle-working gardner friend. Reasonable as that may be, I am a good couple of hundreds short of even beginning to imagine being able to afford that money, so I explain my situation. The aim here is not to swindle anything out of anyone but to see if there is another agreeable way I could reach home before dark. At last we agree on another R150 ($19)- because that is what I actually have left- and a creative compromise. The refuse would be gone by ten the next morning and what is remaining would be buried on soil to make compost.

Day three: it is now 13h37 or 01:37 pm. There is a ridiculously large pile of refuse portruding through the fine picture that was to be my renewed and beautiful front yard and no hope of getting it off and out for good before the Easter weekend. About twenty minutes ago, I politely told my miracle-working gardner friend that though he’s led me astray, I would take it upon myself to find my own way back to the path home, thank you very much. He had sent one of his “workers” to wait for the refuse truck which subsequently never arrived. Poor man had spent the entire morning waiting just as I had. At the end of this tideous wait, his employer offers him R70/$9 to move tens of kilograms of refuse from one corner of my garden to the next. After miracle garden man abruptly leaves, his worker tries to strike a private deal for himself with me: he would work for me if I would negotiate with him directly. He and the other worker had been paid R150/$19 for two days of very hard manual work. I am frozen in my tracks as I realize that this path, this detour was not how I had planned to get back home.

South African gardeners get paid a standard average wage of R150 ($19) a day for 8 hours of work. Some homeowners don’t even bother to offer their gardners a meal let alone beverage or water and so that R150 is stretched by its recepients in many creative ways to mate ends. These two men had done so much more for me in two days than I had been able to do for myself for six years. I am full of hope because I see my life changing before my eyes. I am no longer frozen solid in my grief, suffocated by the state of decay all round a place I call “home” because two men who sought to fend for themselves, gave their all into making my garden and roof look beautiful and safe for my family and I. And though they were fated to being my living angels through the one I once thought of as a “miracle-working gardner friend”, R150…a measley nineteen dollars is all they are worth to him.

I am told this is the South African way, that everyone does it. The way home has certainly become foreign and unfriendly if you cannot even count on sighting the spirit of botho/ubuntu/ humility everywhere along its paths. Home is where your children treat the gardner like a respected uncle and your husband shares his provisions with him like a brother. If this is how I am expected to heal and mend and find my place in the world again, I fear I will just have to find some other way home.

No Place Like Home

The house that I live in, the home my parents built for us their children is the most frightening and miserable place I have ever lived. It’s not what you think: we do not live in the slums or share our neighbourhood with the poorest of the poor. Yet amidst these manicured neighbourhood yards, in the core of these annually repainted pallisades is our debilitating house, an ugly sore on the flesh of fair surburbia.

We can’t even say we live remote from all of modern life’s ammenities. A brisk five minute walk eastward from our yard takes you to a shopping mall with a decent provision of all-you-will-need commodity stores- clothing stores, furniture stores, a decent supermart and factory store after factory store of solid South African family brands. A brisk five minutes back to no 709 Niewhout Street leads you to our house refridgerator where there are exactly five edible things in there to provide for three adults and one pre-scholar.

Most people move to other neighbourhoods, places that are conducive to their tighter budget and leaner purse. They pack up, brace the inevitable and make for the sky rises where yards are a thing of a mythical nature and the only way to live with another is cramped; they move to these modern little concepts called apartments. For some reason, we seem to believe that we deserve this breathing space even though we cannot afford it. We cannot accept that there is such a thing as “people like us”, broke people who should be living in neighbourhoods where there are “people like them”.

I don’t have a job. I am thirty years old and not even supporting my own child. Instead I am supported my my 27 year old younger sister- she supports us all. Today I don’t even have a cent bouncing about in my wallet, making me feel like more will come to keep the solo coin company.

I have been trying to build a business since 2009. Because I’d been miserable in formal employment for five years and had obsessed over the idea of being a self made person one day since my first day at a job, I believed quitting formal employment to be an annointed decision, a predestined juncture of my life journey.

Here I am. I’m not only broke but am just as bad a business woman as I was an employee. I am all talk and very uninspiring action. I have the confidence of a mole. The only time I shine is when I get away with almost missing a client’s deadline. I am broken a apparatus of God.

I am pregnant again and I am having this baby. I see my youngest sister’s face whenever I think of this baby, how her eyes teemed with such well suppressed dissapointment and worry. “I don’t have what it takes, that’s what she’s thinking,” I think to myself. “She is probably right,” I conclude but when I awake the next day I feel even stronger about having a child I cannot provide for financially.

The father is out of the picture and so I know that this is my albatross to piggy-back. He’s not coming back either, so I know it’s not going to get better.

The sewer in our backyard reaks somewhat stronger today. What is wrong with me? How dare I even consider raising my children here?

This place used to be filled with music and laughter. It used to be filled with my mother and father. It used to be filled with their love for one another. Now we live in the decay of all that died when they died, the love that died, the security and comfort that departed with their migration to the next world. This place is no place like home.

I can’t raise my children here.

He Aint Heavy…He my baby-daddy

Senseless argument number 1735. Five years of knowing each other well enough to stay off each other’s sensitive toes have done nothing for us. Our fights are so legendary that some Greek mythology had to be made up about cats and fighting to divert attention. If I could choose between Tyson and that man I’d be in the ring flyin’ like a butterfly, hands surgically attached to both ears. So it makes no sense to take a bullet for my one and only arch nemesis now does it? What treachery when the sisterhood of single mothers bleeds at the aorta from bludgeoned promises, half- hearted efforts of baby daddies. I take this bullet under advisement ladies; my vision is 20/20 on this one.

It is in the bottom of the darkest abyss that infinite, heavy tears of despair will fall. The vessels finally lets up, shatters into a thunderous multitude of pieces and out gushes the river of tears. “Why me. Where are you when I need you. When will it stop”. Not questions but statements of a terrified warrior woman, fearing the death of her light inside that deep, endless, hopeless pit. I hear they call it the last hour before dawn and witness that it indeed is. Tears all wrung out, face properly disfigured from the erratic contorting, as if crying and screwing your face up makes the anguish less devastating, I reached out into the dark one fine day.

There within my reach was a doorknob, firm and real and begging to be twisted open. It took far less strength pushing that door open than it did crying my heart out. The light came streaming in like water from above, bathed my face in a million minute colours that just then blended to form a halo around the now ajar door. I walked out of my own terror. I was free. Once more, I had been transported back to my own life. And through that opening I could see the contents of that very fragile life. Yet something seemed unfamiliar about the portrait of my life.

 
Where had the food come from? Who had filled my cup to the brim without my consent? How is it that my child had been bathed and fed while I had been lost in my terror and panic? How could do such a generous thing for me when all I had been in my trying times was alone?

But look, his eyes draw me out of the dark with empathy. He bears no ill judgment for the choices I have made and the malice those choices have brought me. Just kindness beckons me out. It is as if (his eyes) say to me, “A little girl needs her mother. She needs her to be well, her rock and hero. You can still be those things and more!” I reach out, in awe of the messenger that clearly Heaven had sent down into my hell to free me.
1735 senseless fights over 5 years and I wouldn’t trade him for anything better. We couldn’t be lovers once and were never to see eye to eye on a great many things since.

How naive I was to grieve our end when in fact there were always many other ways to care for him. Romantic desires had blinded my heart to the sight of a truly good friend, one who didn’t want to divorce himself from the shambles that I was during my most trying hour. We take too long to see people for who they really are once our hearts are wounded by betrayals. In retrospect, you really are a good man, a good father, a flawed person and most importantly a true friend. He aint my man, and thank God too, for all that did was make room for the truly spectacular friend he is!

I’m all about you.

Close to me as if you were my kin and yet a stranger I may never even meet.

I can’t imagine a world without you in it. You are the part of me that will never be erased because of the many common threads between us. We are built for fears, laughter and triumphs. Everyday we rise without fail to face challenges, and while we deal with them as fitting our unique upbringings and beliefs, our tears fall from the same place, our smiles break out on our mouths and eyes. And so however different we may seem on the outside, we all yearn for the same thing: we yearn to be loved.

I write for you because in this world where everyone needs someone, this is the one gift I can offer you freely and with sincerity. You do not have to agree with my opinions or thoughts but will find that what I know you already know too. Every question I pose you have an answer to, and so by speaking from my heart to you I open yours to me and others too. 

Here’s to hoping my heart finds yours in your moments of trial, when you feel alone and misunderstood, when you seek answers as I seek answers to the questions pertaining to life. These thoughts are rightfully yours as much as there are mine, expressed quite differently from how your mind and heart works but none-the-less true and enlightened. May they comfort and inspire you, an extraordinary piece of the universal puzzle, created to fulfil a undeniably special purpose for yours, mine and the world’s good. My words are inspired by you, my burdens made lighter by your courage, perseverance and resilience. Open your heart to me and let me share in your pain and joy and I promise I will continue to honour you.