Missing South Africa

I called the Stellenbosch PostNet tonight (as in, 2:00am) to find out about my missing suitcase (“um, Ms. Waite, we think it’s in Brazil….” was what I expected…), and the second they answered, this near painful nastalgia took me over. I wanted to bathe in the man’s voice. I wanted to cover myself with it, roll around in it, maybe eat it for breakfast. I closed my eyes and I think I may have cried had he spoken for another second or two. Those “quite lovely”s and “yebo”s and “ja”s that had become so famiiar in my vocabulary, become tried and true, I have to think about now, have to remember. A “quite” still slips out now and again, but it’s not familiar, not family with the rest of my words. The accent doesn’t linger in my mind every time I say specific words. I don’t naturally smell the lifted consonants of Afrikaans and the clicks of Xosa in everything I say. I hear American accents as natural once again – feel my own voice as part of the pedestrian pace of speech that surrounds me, fills my ears. I don’t sound unique, out of place. I’m never looked at quizzically, curiously, eyes and ears all around perking up to try to uncover my home place, my native state.

I threw myself back into life here so fast, so furiously, with such determination. I loved life from the second I stepped on the plane leaving until now – the moments I write this (…while I should be sleeping). I’ve loved life and embraced life and thrown myself into each new adventure, each new day, new task set before me. That feverish intensity in me to just take life and grab it and swim in it and sun in it – comes this downfall every once in a while of mourning what I left behind. I move at such a speed that sometimes I don’t stop to notice when something is gone… until it’s so far removed that I can only hear the sounds and see mountain tops and the vineyards rolling in the distance when I close my eyes and dream at night. I see them when I drive to Ventura to see Jason – as I see my first signs for “Welcome to Camarillo,” I feel transported, a small piece of me – of my mind – back to Stellenbosch – driving down the N-1 (I can’t even be positive that’s the right interstate… that I remmeber which one it is) back from Cape Town into Stellenbosch…. entering the Winelands… the green, green, green around me and the mountains in front of me.

I could describe my sense of loss, the feeling of mourning that passes over me every time I remember the things I love, fell in love with, that I don’t see every day, the people that are getting harder and harder to visualize, but it would take me hours and thousands upon thousands of words, and after it all –

I’d still just want to bathe in the Stellenbosch PostNet’s man’s accent. Because it – it felt like coming home.

Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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