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.