Ok, I’m back. That last post – a pocket post I think – was a symbol for me. It’s time to get writing again.
Let me begin by saying I am in a foul mood. Everything I say now will be tainted by this. My kids were awful today from beginning to end. It began with incessant complaining about their weekly chores. Not one of them has to spend more than fifteen minutes a day doing them. Ah forget it. It only went down hill from there. I wanted to throttle them. They wanted to throttle me. It was mutual malevolence.
Tennis in Constantia.
I played my first tennis match. It began on a hard court which ravaged my dilapidated body. (More on that later). Then there was the raging wind. I watched a ball blow almost across the width of the entire court. It made me mad. But the real difference between Toronto and Cape Town tennis came at the end of the match when I tried to leave. There is no skipping out on the end part of tennis here. Why can’t I just play a game and leave? Strangers busted me trying to sneak out and herded me back. Outrageous. The home team is expected to buy drinks for the visiting team which I was happy to do. I left my money on the table. But then you are required to sit with the guests and drink it with them. The nerve. Honestly. The last thing I wanted to do was sit around sipping sparkling water. But here is where the real difference comes in.
First of all, its tequila and beer. There is absolutely no water to be had. I warmed up to the idea and then became everyone’s best friend when I ordered a beer and a cider and mixed the two. Go big or go home. I called it a Canadian Snake Bite (and enjoyed the geographic and ethological irony). Then I poured some out for everyone and repeated the name a few times so that it would sink in and other people would use it. Canadian Snake Bite. I had blown an opportunity for a really fun name that I could have totally made up. Then the group fragmented into mini groups. That’s when it got stressful. Janey (in her seventies) is out for the first time and is relieved just to be out because remember Georgie? You know, Georgie from the news? Georgie was her husband. He was murdered at the house a few months earlier. Then there is Frannie. Her’s is a tantalizing tale of affluence to poverty, drugs, alcohol, sociopathic father, incest, bodyguards, kidnapping threats, and the long crawl back to the tennis team. It was quite a bit for me to take in. I left speechless. Really. I couldn’t fully accept everything that was coming at me. Then I started thinking about how strong these women were. Then I started thinking about violence again. My favourite topic to dwell on especially when I am in a pissy mood.
ATM Robbery in Nairobi.
I found this a fascinating tale of a well travelled woman who had a problem at an ATM machine in Nairobi. Now if you travel to Nairobi, or to South Africa and you have done any amount of research you know to be careful at the ATM machines. She knew this which is why this robbery was more interesting. I could easily imagine it having happened to me. I am trying to put specifics to an otherwise amorphous general blob that “we” in Toronto understand “African” violence to be.
She was in a line to get to an ATM machine. It was the middle of the day and it was an ATM machine associated with a bank, and on the outside of an actual bank. (Three check marks for responsible money withdrawl). The young man in front of her, a hipster of sorts, began chatting and found out she was from elsewhere, and doing this and that, etc. (I’m chatty too – I can totally relate). The man goes to the machine and my friend continues chatting with her friend who is with her. It is her turn. She goes to the machine, puts her card in and all of a sudden the young man reappears. “Do you need any help?” My friend is immediately on high alert. “No thanks.” “You need to enter your pin. It’s different here.” The young man insists. My friend cancels the transaction, takes her card and the young man disappeared. It was a close call but the red flags were flying and she saw them and avoided getting robbed at the ATM today. So, back into the line up she went. She still needed money after all. This time, as she puts her card into the machine, another man appears. “Do you need any help? The machines are different here.” “No she says.” “Was that other man bothering you? I think he was trying to rob you.” Relieved that there was a sane person who witnessed the ordeal, she concurred. “You need to put your pin in.” “But it is the home page of the bank just asking me what language I want to do the transaction in.” “You need to put your pin in. The machines are different here.” My friend cups her hand over the key pad and punches in her code – EVEN THOUGH SHE FEELS SOMETHING IS WRONG. “No, no. You have to do it again. Put your pin code in!” My friend gathers her wits and pushes cancel to get her card back. Alas, the card is gone and so is the guy – presumably with the card and an idea of what her pin code is. And that is what a robbery at an ATM in the middle of the day at a well respected busy bank looks like. Luckily, she was able to immediately cancel the card and carry on. It’s not generic. It’s specific.
Team Joy in Cape Town.
(The Director) and Bailey (The Choreographer/ Right Hand Woman) came and rescued me from the depths of Andrea bureaucracy. I thought I was “over it” when I went to get them at the airport. I had told Sean that I was [over it] just the night before. He said he wasn’t over it and neither was I. Ha. I love it when Sean tells me how I am feeling. I am a Daughter of Darwin. Life and Death. I understand it. Life keeps going. I’m over it.
I was elated on my way to pick them up. I smiled and joked with the coffee man. I was twirling around in the airport acting foolish, drunk with joy – maniacally happy. I found a perch where I would record their arrival from the perfect angle. Then I saw a Vodacom store and suddenly I began to weep. In public. Seriously. How dare Sean be right about how I was feeling. I wiped the tears away and scowled at onlookers. And then I saw them– two of my friends from Toronto–from conflict free, violence free, death free, happy Toronto. We hugged. Team Joy had arrived. We ate and walked and had wine and played games and chatted and I felt extremely grateful to have them with me for a few days. Hell, to have them in my life in general.
Now they are gone and I realize that my kids have really handled this tragedy amazingly well. It’s not ok to whine about chores but they have been through a lot in the last little while and are doing so so well. Coco won “student of the week” again. She continues to work ahead independently in grade five math and her drama teacher and her cheer teacher have asked me if she can join the “elite squads.” Leo got “player of the game” at his hockey game, and got an A+ on his English assignment about bullying where my brave boy identified times when he acted as a bully. Oscar scored a goal at his hockey game and was pleased (even though it was against his brother) and is cruising into mid term reports with a solid A average. All three of them are working really hard at school, are adjusting to life far away from their friends, and then to have to have their joyous, superfriend Andrea die. Jeesh. I need to lighten up and cut them some slack.
Tomorrow – I am posting some pictures of the absolutely super fun stuff we have been doing and of the rocking stuff coming up: the Cedarberg Mountain Range; Namibia; The Garden Route; the Iron Woman; and too many hikes and restaurants to detail so I will post just the highlights. I am feeling better just thinking about it.