The Accidental End of Summer

It was partly to celebrate summer.  It was partly to compensate for a colossal miscalculation regarding the start of school in Cape Town.

I really don’t know what happened.  We just kept telling ourselves and everyone around us that it started at the end of August.  That date had absolutely nothing to do with any information given to us by the school, or any anecdotal information that reality provided.  It didn’t phase us that our neighbour’s three children in two different neighbourhood schools were all back in uniform.  It didn’t phase us that roads were all of a sudden congested and that there were no longer tennis courts reliably available in the evenings.  Nope.  We just made up a start date that suited us.  Our denial and fake date (similar to what it would have been  in Toronto) was essential  in assuring our children, who generally hated the idea of being uprooted at shunted off to Africa, that there was no need to worry.  At least summer vacation would be in tact.  Then, we reminded ourselves (and everyone around us) of the fiction so many times that it became a truth.  Then we believed it.   It didn’t matter how many people remarked on the unusual start date.  We smiled smugly and said, yeah.  That’s why we picked this school for our kids.   And so, with just over a week to go before the actual first day of school, we discovered the Truth and in addition to all of the regular stuff you have to do to get ready for a new school year, we had to break it to the kids that we made a mistake.  Not to worry, we quickly added, we would compensate with a Week of Yes.  They took it very well.

We went to movies, played tennis, gin rummy and backgammon.   We (they) ate at Burger King.  And then they thought it would be great to go to Sun City.

It had been over 20 years since apartheid ended.   We found a last minute deal.

Sun City is Atlantis on steroids– a ravenous world of consumption: gambling, shows, water rides, extreme sports, animals, safaris, golf, food, drink, more and more and endless more.  Neither the staff or the patrons were white.    We had a blast.

We rode ATV’s.


The manufacturer label clearly said NO ONE UNDER THE AGE OF 16 but we did it.   NO PASSENGERS EVER but I rode with Coco.  And it was ok.   We didn’t go as fast as everyone else.


They triple tubed.


We hung with fake animals, and captive ones and raced these dune buggy things.


But honestly, I am starting to feel sick to my stomach about this choice to move to South Africa.   I love it here.  But what do I love?   The residual infrastructure of apartheid that keeps me on top of the back side of Table mountain enjoying the view while I sip local wine from waterford?     I had a flash of panic tonight because Andrea came home and left the front door unlocked. And then there is the issue of the gate.  The gate still doesn’t electrify properly.   My children only know that a vague generic malevolence lurks and that they need to be conscious that there are desperate people “out there” and there are people who might harm them.   WTF have I done?

We go to Hockey.  It is fun.


It is an olympic sized rink in another alter universe also oriented around a casino.  The kids have a great time.   The boys are playing in the under 16 category which challenges them and Coco is playing with boys which she finds challenging so everyone is pleased.

But I can’t shake these thoughts and I’m back.  This time I’m thinking about the people I met in the settlements around Durban while researching  waterless toilets.  I’m thinking about the people of Kibera that created a dual purpose soccer field and buffer to the N’Gong River.  (The soccer field, created and maintained by the community, meant that people weren’t able to set up informal housing on the river banks which meant that the river had a little section of relief from people. When there is no infrastructure for water, or for waste, the people do what they have to do.  They use the river as a sewer).    I shove the thoughts away.

And then we had the first day of school.  Everyone was happy at drop off, looking forward to new people, new sports, and maybe even some new friends and two out of three of them were very discouraged at pick up.  One was in tears.  He wishes we could be a “normal” family.  He “doesn’t like his life anymore.”  I sing them to sleep and wonder about my fictional dates and my fictional life and WTF?

Where is Predator?

Sorry to be so morose today.



Author: Sara

General rager, liar's revisionist auto biographer, nature faker, sonic animal assumption breaker

14 thoughts on “The Accidental End of Summer”

  1. Hang in there Marino. I’ve uprooted my kids many many times and it feels life-ending and wtf many times, but you know it gets better every day. Little by little. Just keep everyone moving forward as best you can and try to remind them and yourself about what they are getting-not what they’ve given up. Big hugs and love!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Nikki thank you. We just dropped them off this morning for Day Two and I marvelled at their resilience. I appreciate your advice and will follow. Thank you!!!!


  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of resilience! You will have so many amazing stories when you return and the kids will have learned and grown so much! Keep your chin up, Sara.
    We miss you all!


  3. Thanks for writing this. Hope the days get better for everyone and you find peace with the very complex situation in South Africa.


  4. Sara – You and your little clan are champions. You will be fine. Hang in there. And the stories you will have to share… all the while creating amazing memories. You are brave… and one of the best moms I’ve ever known. Don’t doubt yourself or your decisions. Look forward. xox.


  5. Sage advice noted…Given more than 25 years ago, my daughters spent a year overseas…mind you, not as exotic as being in South Africa…I can relate… doubt, in the days that follow…there will be more tears, more angst…neverthess, what matters will be the unique experiences that nurtured fond memories of this chosen family sojourn! 🤗 & much ❤️


  6. Big hugs, I remeber this all so well from living in Eastern Europe but without Childern. Great life long stories to look back on later. Everying stays the same her pretty much and will all be waiting for them, you when you come back unchanged as when you left it but you will all be different. Not the normal family any longer . Wiser, stronger, connected to so much more . Big hugs again from the north , xoxo thanks for my morning read .


  7. Hope things have now settled down re school etc and the perspective of being on a grand adventure persists! Enjoying your blog. Love all of your courageous “feel the fear but do it anyway” moments. Do they have tofu biltong?


  8. I love and admire your honesty! Very, very hard to do. I truly feel like this is going to be the trip that creates memories and stories for years and years and years to come. To this day, I tell people about my dad’s childhood in Africa, from my memory of his stories that he told me growing up, and the video footage we discovered a few years ago. Great things are going to come from this time, I just know it. 🙂 Xx


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