Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Verbosity in extremis...

18 x 2007, Thursday evening
It’s hot this evening and the South Easter continues to rage outside – now in it’s
3rd wild day of non-stop howling! I sit here at my writing desk in a pale sage-green satin slip – barefoot and minus my glasses (had to increase the size of the font by 2 points so I could read what I’m writing!)
I stayed late at work this evening to catch up on emails etc – and received a surprise call from the God-sent friend who helped me move from a state of helplessness to one of action – she’s the one who actually booked my flight back to South Africa last year in June. But that’s another long story I feel unsure of telling right now. Maybe in another few months. M and I chatted about various things, including my ex-husband who lives about a 5 minute walk from her front door. It was the house he ostensibly bought ‘for’ me : a double-sided attempt to satisfy my inherent and ever-increasing desire to ‘nest’ – as well as to ‘keep’ me in the UK. As far as property in the UK goes (i.e. cramped brick buildings where you can hear your neighbour peeing or snoring through the thin walls) it was a cute little three-bedroom house in Portsmouth in an ok-sort-of development. Shit. I can’t actually write about this – it’s too raw still. Maybe another night.
But the long and the short of it is that my friend said she’d looked him up on Facebook. And, with mixed feelings I typed in his name in the ‘search’ box. He didn’t have a photo of himself -- and his profile is one of those protected ones (typical and true to form – he remains closed and deeply suspicious and self-protective) but instead had the logo for the SA rugby team. Now THAT was a surprise! He hardly ever watched rugby – was more of a Grand Prix fan --- and that’s besides the sailing… It creates quite a sense of dislocation when you think you knew someone exhaustively inside and out (especially after living with that someone for 11 years!) and discover new or unusual behaviours. I asked M if she’d seen him since I left last June. Says she walks past the house every single day taking her daughter to school and ALWAYS the curtains are closed. (I remember how we used to fight about that. I always wanted them open to let in the fresh air and the light. He always wanted both the windows and curtains closed to keep out prying eyes and, to keep it dark so he could use his laptop minus the glare of daylight. Nothing’s changed there.)
There are so many things I wonder – like seeing S, his Spanish lover (?) on his Facebook. Are they officially together? Was it all my imagination?? As work colleagues they often went away on business, and also always worked late into the night. Skype kept them connected during the day – they were literally CONSTANTLY connected. B wore his headphones all day long – and I’d hear him chuckle – and my stomach would twist with uncertainty. S also used to visit us – sleeping over at our place. He’d show me how to make authentic Spanish tortilla – and we’d sit at the table chatting, laughing. Then I’d go to bed. Alone. He was one of those blatantly effeminate men – with magnificently manicured hands, metrosexual style and body language to put Nataniel or Evita Bezuidenhout to shame! And my husband would actually complain about this apparent ‘gay-ness’… A smokescreen? And when B flew out last December to divorce me, he brought dear S along with him on holiday. A couple of people remarked on how much more pronounced B’s once effeminate gestures were when they saw him at the yacht club. And that’s besides the apparently obvious connection the two of them exhibited towards each other. But, I didn’t see any of it with my own eyes, so all of this remains mere conjecture – but like a puzzle being put together piece by piece, the picture is becoming more and more clear as the months pass.
Enough of that! I feel suddenly strange and uncomfortable – like I’ve been hurled through time to a nightmare I hoped was long forgotten but now I see will never go away. Perhaps only fade.

21 x 2007, Sunday afternoon
It’s now quite a bit after 3pm and I’ve just arrived home from work! My colleague, predictably unreliable, was sick with stomach cramps (probably anxiety-induced as she’s terribly neurotic at the best of times!) so I had to fill in for her… My Sundays are precious and I can’t remember the last time I worked on one, but I thought I’d make an exception today. (Not entirely a wise or informed decision considering last night was my boss’s pole-dancing farewell party AND the rugby World Cup final…)
Almost 8pm. It’s hot here in my little piece of heaven I call home. But while I have the lights on I keep the windows and doors to outside because the area I live in has a terrible midge and mosquito problem – especially in the warmer months. If I had to open the window now, the roof and light fixtures would be obscured by clouds of mozzies and pesky midges which then end up in my food, the food simmering on the stove – and then on my skin so they can bite me and suck my blood all night so that I sleep badly and wake up very, very grumpy. And in the morning, they’ve all died and coat the worksurfaces and tabletops in grey weightless bodies.
About a month ago, I committed myself to look after a friend’s two little children so her and husband could attempt their first romantic evening in 3 or more years. Stupidly, I just said yes and didn’t consider the date – but realised early last week that it was the night of the rugby World Cup final!! Not that I’m a rugby fan – but I’m a fan of my country – and how could I miss watching 30+ men running around in tight tops and short shorts?! Thankfully she phoned to cancel yesterday morning. And this meant, of course, that now I could also go to my boss’s farewell party. She’s headed to Saudi for a couple of months – and so she organised a pole-dancing party… I’m no prude – but the thought of learning a stripper’s basic moves and performing my own little dance in front of my boss, colleagues and a sprinkling of our clients just didn’t have me jumping up and down with enthusiasm.
The thought of this premeditated dancing made me suddenly feel like a wallflower who wished she had an excuse to cancel! As I got ready for the evening, my biggest problem was choosing what to wear. I don’t possess a single item of questionable virtue or made from black fishnet or red satin – I don’t even own pair of raunchy stilettos! Issues I had to take into consideration :
1. I wasn’t in the mood for my amply plump thighs and tummy to be on wobbly exhibit for a group of drunk moms / colleagues.
2. Socialising with my clients in such a starkly different context left me feeling dry-mouthed and quite anxious indeed : I teach them, their husbands and babies --- I am the ‘sweet, knowledgeable, nurturing and motherly teacher’ who they ask for help regarding why their child isn’t crawling yet or do I think their child has the potential to be a bully… So me dressing up as a prancing, dancing whore just didn’t gel with me.

And so, I chose low-slung, wide-legged black jeans, a lowish-cut black top and the highest heels I possess. Certainly I was the most conservatively dressed woman there – besides my boss and her best friend. One of the moms (of twin girls) arrived in knee-high leopard print, high heel, pointy-toed boots, tight black pants, pink corset and a long black wig – and enough eyeliner and mascara to render her completely unrecognisable! The other mom is the local ‘sister’ of her own pre/antenatal clinic who everyone speaks about in tones of hushed awe. Her fishnets and shiny black peep-toe stilettos competed for attention with so much glitter on her eyes, lips and cheeks that she put Priscilla Queen of the Desert to shame! Both in their VERY late 30s, these two provided all the fireworks and fun necessary to make the evening a spectacular (though not very sexy!) success!
Having been to Teazers and Mavericks a couple of times, once on a solo mission of discovery and adventure, and then once with an older male friend, I found the idea of learning what seems to be a universal repertoire of choreographed ‘sexiness’ both boring and just a little distasteful. The first time I went to Teazers I was newly married (only JUST!) , twenty one years old and doing my Masters degree in sculpture (my work having a definite feminist dogma driving it.) I popped in on my way home one day because I was incurably inquisitive about this idea of men going in groups to strip-clubs – both as an almost rabid feminist and a young little wife. My husband had apparently been ‘dragged’ into the Moulin Rouge in town on the night of his bachelor’s party – his hands even bound with insulation tape! (The backs of his hands were black with bruising even a week later on the day of our wedding… And he broke down in tears when he ‘confessed’ having gone to the stripclub the night before… When I left last year, he told me one night on the phone that he’d licked salt off one of the girl’s nipples before knocking back a tequila. Perhaps he thought it would hurt me by telling me 6 years later? I remember how violently anti he was about even having a bachelor’s party. In retrospect, it’s no damn wonder!!)
I parked my car outside Teazers in the blazing late afternoon summer sun, sweaty and tired after a day in the library and mentally preparing to cook supper, iron clothes etc. What was I wearing? Oh yes. A long black dress – pretty ordinary in style, I suppose. Black Birckenstock sandals (orthopaedically flat, ultra-conservative and super-unsexy!) My hair in a rough bird’s nest of a bun, glasses and no make-up. And under my arm, my journal and constant companion. As a woman, the bouncer said I didn’t need to pay a cover charge. It was surreal, entering such a dark (in both senses of the word) and smoky space as a young, fairly innocent wife who had to still go home to perform her domestic duties… My eyes took a few moments to adjust to the darkness – seeing the bar to my right, a table full of overweight married men – the rest of the room scattered about with solitary men sitting at tables stuck through with thick floor-to-ceiling poles. Half-fascinated and half afraid, I felt disgust creeping in at the outer edges of my mind like approaching nausea… But still, my curiosity propelled me forward to buy a drink (it was an icy Savanna with a twist of lemon) and find a corner where I could sit and observe. ( I don’t have time to finish writing about this right now – have to prepare some extra work for tomorrow… And I’m also meant to go to my Al Anon meeting, but what with the weather being so foul, all I want to do is climb into bed with my book…)

My very excitable, considerably younger colleague poured all of us a MOER of a shooter to get us out of our tightly-laced inhibitions and get down and dirty as wannabe stripper-sluts. All I remember was its foul taste and colour – much like apple-green cough mixture – and an entire glass of it : not just a shot or two!! It did the job though, and I participated with ample gusto. I sipped red wine for the rest of the evening until we headed down to ‘my local’ on the beachfront to witness the second-half of the Boks thrashing England. The whole afternoon and evening had been filled with the sounds of cars hooting and people shouting out their car windows. It was as if a kind of nationalistic lunacy had possessed us as a whole – and, admittedly, I was a little concerned about being on the road that night even though my drive home was a mere 3km. I fell into bed at midnight – feeling a bit like a reverse-Cinderella as I kicked my heels off, my feet aching and red. All I can remember is lying, collapsed, in bed (I’m sure I was smiling) my bedroom window open wide – and hearing a veritable symphony of victorious shouting, exuberant hooting and police sirens : the sounds of national triumph!! Like a lullaby almost.
In the luminous grey of pre-dawn, I woke up thirsty and with an oncoming truck of a headache, only to find my front door left wide open to catch the cool night air – and any potential intruder! Two Disprin dissolved in a deep glass of cool water and a couple more hours of sleep did the trick, and I woke up feeling almost as fresh as a daisy – except for my allergies which had my eyes red and watering, my nose snotty and blocked – and my chest tight and begging for my asthma pump and a dose of cortisone! I rushed off to work and actually ended up enjoying the day – though it was MUCH longer and much harder work than I anticipated! Have you ever watched Vanilla Sky (an American re-make with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz of a Spanish art film ) ? The main character wakes up to find he is utterly alone in the middle of New York City. The silence is eerie and heavy. He is SURE it’s a dream. And this is what it felt like this morning as I drove to work in the grey overcast aftermath of Our Win. Completely surreal.
Arriving home just after 3pm, I let myself into my flat – hands full of packets and a one-track mind: I was in critical need of a nap! Putting my packets down, I felt, intuitively, something amiss. Near the door where I keep my keys, there was a yellowish-brown little puddle of what looked like bird-poo – but I couldn’t be sure. I looked up to see I’d left the window above the basin wide open, so it WAS quite possible a bird had been in the flat. Then I noticed one of favourite antique paper-thin glass vases was lying smashed over a sinkful of dishes. There were three other vintage antique glasses on the sill, two which’d also been knocked off the shelf. Mercifully the turquoise one, also quite fragile, lay unscathed in the rinsing bowl! I found another 2 places where the bird had obviously dispelled his guts in a state of claustrophobic fright. Walking carefully and quietly through the house, I half hoped to find the little thing – having had a quiet passion for little brown songbirds over the last few years – using them as part of my self-portrait since 2003… But, it must found its way out to the hot afternoon sky at last. But what I cannot explain is a profound sense of having been visited. Like an omen. A good one. And though one of my favourite vases had been shattered and I had to clean up a good deal of gooey bird poo, a residual glow remains with me even now - knowing that a little bird had been here.

Almost 1am. The bottle of Pinotage I opened at 6pm now sits with its last few drops in my smoky grey wine glass. And Maria de Souza schmoozes scrumptiously in the air all around me – a voice like chocolate and jazzy guitar falling all around me like warm syncopated summer rain…
After I’d finished writing about my little bird visitor, I settled down to a lengthy Mxit chat with the primary school teacher that has somehow managed to capture a part of my heart despite all of my best efforts to remain detached. I think I mentioned it before – that I was his first kiss. And how we hooked up on Facebook. And when he was in Cape Town, met me for drinks and then asked to take me to lunch which turned out to be a rather protracted affair… And how he flew down a month later ‘just to get to know me better’. (And how he spoiled me with thoughtful, romantic kindnesses like flowers and wine and running a bath for me, and filling my fridge with groceries…) And now he is due to come and stay with me for another whole week in November! Half of me can’t wait – and the other half hopes anxiously that the trip’ll be cancelled. And only because I’m so unsure of my feelings for him – and with all of my sick, fucked up little heart, I don’t want him to be hurt if I can’t return his affections… Yes – I HAVE been transparently honest with him. But still, this does not prevent certain heart-actions form occurring – which I am afraid is already too far gone to reverse. Still, he is the most gentle and thoughtful man I have ever met – and who somehow manages to remain ardently and almost voraciously, passionately and imaginatively sexy! His build is (as he says) ‘skinny’ – but to me his lean muscularity is um… perfect. Big, over-pumped muscles have never been able to excite me…
(lots of editing here --- a private bit of writing...)

26 x 2007, Friday evening – just after 6pm, and the chill wet mist so much a part of the west coast, has turned in for the night like a thick, grey blanket. A shroud?
I have the lights turned on low, soft and gold – and the CD playing is ‘Mona Lisa’ – mix made for me by C which he posted down to me from PE. The first song is a love-song called ‘Vermilion’… and the rest is his favourite Guns ‘n Roses songs. And when I listen to it I see him before me vividly – it is almost as if his scent and warmth materialise bodily here with me in this room. This is the magical voodoo of music. It has power – the power to beguile and seduce. The ability to conjure up mighty emotion and memory- or to calm the wildest sea. (I should probably make myself a healthy supper – but I know that once I get started with either a drawing or writing, my appetite dissolves and it is only at bedtime that my stomach rumbles remindingly that I neglected to feed it!)
Tonight I was meant to meet a man I’ve never met before at a nearby restaurant for dinner at 8pm. Two weeks ago, I cancelled with him because the state of my heart was, plainly put : pretty damn confused and hurting like hell! (And as a result of years of emotional pain at the hand of my ex-husband irrevocably bubbling and boiling to the surface) And that ain’t never a good recipe : going on a date with a strange man to soothe the loss and pain of someone other man’s previous destruction – it’s like drinking on an empty stomach : i.e. dangerous, stupid mistakes inevitable, you’ll make a fool of yourself blah blah blah. And so this stranger persisted in asking to take me out – and in a moment of weakness I agreed, but then churned and chewed over it all week, anxiously feeling guilty for ditching him. Why do I continue to wrestle with this demon of not being able to say no? And yet once I’ve said it, it releases me like a bird into the open air and I wonder what all the struggle was about. But watching these little babies and children I work with all day long, and witnessing first-hand the development of their personalities and skills expand and change literally from week to week, it has made me recognize the devastating impact mother, father etc have on the child’s psychology. From around 15 months old, children begin to realise their separateness from their parents and others – and especially the ability to say NO. And it is this crucial stage of boundary-building that many parents often bulldoze over with either their own forceful desires of they ‘know best’ – or quite unconsciously the child’s position amongst older or younger siblings. It seems to be a conclusively predictable outcome that a child of 15 – 24 months who is forced into constantly acquiescing, or into surrendering everything they know as important theirs (i.e. a parent’s attention and a handful of toys) because of a sibling or two, never develops the ability to say ‘no’ or healthy boundaries. It is perilously crucial that a child of this age knows his NO is respected. I have read that they become ‘NO-addicts’ even saying no to their favourite things like ice-cream! And besides the obvious impact this has on the self-concept and personality development, the Butterfly Effect is seen in frightening proportion later on in early adolescence and as the child becomes and IS an adult - the ability to withstand a bullying boss, sexual pressure, peer pressure, develop healthy relationships etc.
Now that I seem to have ended my digressive explanation, let me return to the point : my inability to say no and my constant distress as to what people will think of me. It is this very thing which kept me stuck in my abusive marriage. And, from the bottom of my heart I do not want to blame anybody for the tragedies of my life, because we all have a choice – always. But it is becoming clear to me that when my twin sisters were born when I was 15 months old, I had to surrender so much (sjoe – even just writing about this makes me feel like I’m trying to pin the blame on everyone but myself…) My mom, even, has expressed as much – that having to give up so much and suddenly be a little, miniature, helping adult has had an obvious and visible impact on my life and the choices I have made. My father, too, has been like a meteorite in my life – fascinatingly magnificent, powerful, crushingly destructive.

29 x 2007, Monday “The Night of the Gnats”
With hands red and raw from scrubbing my kitchen floor on hands and knees and overpoweringly smelling of Handy Andy (the Lemon kind!) I sit down for the first time today to do something relaxing – and seeing today is my day off, I reckon I more than deserve it! With a kitchen sink overflowing with dirty dishes and a pile of fresh laundry waiting for me on my bed to be folded, I feel a little guilty sitting down to write but heck – I worked all of Saturday and yesterday from 8am to 6pm without so much as a glance towards a break!!
With the South Easter blustering and bawling outside, I know that at least tonight I shall be able to have some windows open : a howling gale means NO MOZZIES! Last night, there wasn’t a breath of wind, so I knew to keep the windows closed where I had lights on – closing off the bedroom and bathroom in the dark with the windows wide open for the fresh cool night air. At one point I went into the bedroom for something and wondered where on earth this pesky, biting mosquito could have come from. Slapping it away for the fourth time, thoughts of an itchy, sleepless night crept into my mind – something HAD to be done about it!! Pulling back my curtains I saw in panicked horror the bedroom window was wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open! Looking up reflexively to the bedroom light, the scene was worse than I thought possible : the ceiling was literally grey with midges, gnats, moths and other be-winged night-thingies! Disaster! Chaos! Rummaging under the sink, the Tabard candle was thankfully exactly where I remembered it. Burning furiously, the smell of the candle was enough to chase me away, let alone an army of midges!! My next weapon of defence : a broom! My immediate thought was to swipe and smoosh them into oblivion off my ceiling. But the thought of a thousand dead and crumpled insects in my crisp white cotton bedding was almost more horrifying than being chowed all night long! New tactic brainwave : I placed the burning candle on my windowsill, turned off the lights, grabbed my duvet and pillow, closed the door and retreated into No-Mozzie Zone. The sleeper couch was adequately comfortable though a touch on the narrow side (especially after more than a year of having a double bed all to my ownsome!)
Recipe : cold chai milkshake : generous pinch of chai spice (mixture of cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper) mixed into a teaspoon of honey (or more if you want it sweeter). Add a small amount of boiling water to melt the honey and enhance the flavour and scent of the spices. Then just add super chilled cold milk (ya – this is a quick fix for the desperate : no ice-cream or elbow-grease!)

4 x 2007 . Sunday
Sitting at Pakalolo’s with the sea wild, dark and grey behind and the air wet and salty with its fierce pounding. After a difficult and stressful day at work (aren’t Sundays meant to be a time of rest??) I still have an article to write for the newsletter we send out to clients about the cognitive and etc etc benefits of art for very little children. And here I sit, contemplating my navel and sipping a warming glass of Shiraz – the anaesthetizing hum of conversation like a blanket, the nostalgic smell of a just lit match, and acid-reggae pumping it all along like a lazy little heartbeat.

19 xi 2007 Monday

So much time has passed since I last had a chance to write. Quite what it is that has been keeping me so busy eludes me – though I think it has been a mixture of work-related fatigue, a good novel and my present company – the visitor from PE (who now lounges back on my pink sari-covered couch, reading a book while I sit here and sip a glass of green tea, rose incense curling dreamily around the room in tendrils and curls.) Tonight he is cooking me a roast chicken complete with roast potatoes etc. His plan is to pour me a glass of red wine while he cooks in the kitchen and I sit at the table and work on my current art piece. Sjoe. I may just have stumbled upon Shangri-lah! (My dear father’s verdict on this sort of behaviour is that it would wane quite quickly. But incredibly, his thoughtfulness and romantic sweetness seems only to be increasing with time. (Out of the corner of my eye, I see his book has dropped to his chest and his eyes have closed.)
It is such a very strange tale of how we came to be in love with each other… Hmmm... the story would need to be told from the very beginning – reaching all the way back into 1990 when we were both just entering what I’ll call ‘turbulescence’ (i.e. turbulent adolescence!) We were in Standard 4 or 5 (can’t pinpoint the precise year) and I had a dreadful crush on C who at that stage was tall-ish and skinny and dark, with big, brown gentle eyes and an impish quietness (which has since turned into gentlemanly mysteriousness.) He told me about how he remembers a little love-letter I wrote, calling him “Mr Puppy Dog Eyes”. Nauseating to my 30 year old sensibilities but oh so cute when you’re just 12! Our first kiss was stolen behind the curtains in the music room... What is fascinating about all of this is how we both spent almost two decades wondering about each other…
His patience with me has been of saint-like proportions. After his last visit I gingerly explained my way around my wounded mess of a heart to him, saying I was in no way of fit mind to be able to understand my feelings or make any emotional decisions. i.e. basically, that I was too fucked up. And yes, most males would have run more than just a mile at this rather un-oblique admission. C decided I’m not fucked up at all, but whatever my decision, he was a-ok with it. Miraculously, my past didn’t threaten or frighten him at all. (a quietly hushed ‘wow’).
Other MAJOR plusses:
1. he adores my quirky and sometimes bizarre uniqueness in personality, the way I dress and the way I’ve decorated my little housie.
2. he created a list for me of all the things he admires about me, and they’re all the things I’ve yearned for a man to love about me. He actually ‘gets’ me. I am completely and vulnerably myself with him (another ‘wow’!!!!!!)
3. near the top of his list was my love for children and my ability with them. (Most guys seem to have been quite nauseated by this aspect of my personality and working life.)

Ag, there are many things but because I feel as if I have stumbled upon secret treasure, spilling my guts completely would ruin how extraordinary all of this is!
The Clincher for me – the thing that stole my heart – was the surprise he’d planned and organised more than a month before… But even before I picked him up at the airport that stormy Wednesday night, my heart had already decided for me.

LISA’S SURPRISE (more to follow)


Velvet pink and lavish lilac skies cover the early evening with soft, kind light – letting the four little Xhosa boys prolong their game of makeshift cricket for as long as Mommy doesn’t call them back home, leaving twig wickets behind them, marking their moment of play.
(--- obviously got very distracted by something… Craig was cooking me dinner, so I probably ended up taking my glass of wine with me to the kitchen – jumping up to sit on the counter while he peeled potatoes for the roast so we could chat…)

26 xi 2007 Monday.
And still the rain continues. This sweet November rain. I sit here at my laptop perched on this cold white marble Singer sewing-machine table all veined with grey, a glass of Pinotage to my right – along with an almost finished roll of masking tape, a twisted dry pale pink hibiscus flower and the wrapped up birthday present I made for my friend’s birthday tomorrow : a deep sage/olive green mohair brooch crocheted in an organic random shape and then embellished with tiny seed pearls and miniature haphazard embroidery stitches, then wrapped in a piece of old dressmaking pattern paper and tied with a little wooden button and a piece of string. And seeing as it’s the end of the month, my ‘gourmet’ bowl of 2 minute noodles cools in the microwave after its 1 minute 30 second cook! And exploding from my CD player is one of Craig’s ****in’ awesome Linkin Park CDs. (Yip, I took him to the airport this morning… This frightening weather caused his plane to PE to be delayed by a couple of hours… He returns in the first week of January to take up his teaching post at a primary school in Durbanville.)
And now that we’re on the subject of Craig, let me briefly outline the adventure he planned for our last day together on Sunday while I sat babysitting little Matthew and Thomas on Saturday night (before telling you all about “Lisa’s Surprise”).
Though I got home much later than expected on Saturday night (i.e. more like Sunday morning), he stayed awake to open the driveway gate for me, my headlights picking him out against the fierce and blusteringly black night in his blue boxers, hoodie and Hang Ten slipslops! e-tv’s hilarious pseudo-porn ooh-ed and aah-ed in the lounge while we chatted about little Matthew’s antics – then gently Craig reminded me the bath he’d run for me was getting cold. A steaming bath complete with golden candlelight and a soft, pink, fluffy towel! (Ladies – all I can hear you say along with me is “YOWZERS”!!!)
Early Sunday morning played through my bedroom curtains with almost riotous, sunshiney joy! For the first time in a week, the wind decided it was time to let us Capetonians play! The first part of Craig’s plan was an unhurried breakfast at Pakalolo’s – sipping excellent coffee and mopping up Worcestershire sauce and runny egg with nicely buttered toast while the turquoise calm of the bay glistened languidly beneath its matching sky. From there, it was a quick drive to Milnerton market where we perused like excited, specialist treasure-hunters amongst dusty lanes of salmon pink ‘40s glassware, a splendid brass floor lamp adorned with crystals, rust-covered plumbing supplies and mould-ridden books – the vendors as intriguing and random as their wares. Quite the Stephen King enthusiast, Craig unearthed a dog-eared and dusty novel to add to his collection for just a coupla bucks, while I bought a zillion treasures and trinkets in my rather wild imagination : accidental couplings of random English tea-cups and saucers, delicate glass vases and glasses in all the retro shades from beer-brown to blood red to peacock… In the end, Craig bought ‘us’ a luminously grass-green dyed Springbok pelt for only R50! There’re about three or four ways I could use it in my rather bohemian apartment, but at the moment it remains rolled up on the floor next to the still unpacked bag of beachtowels, SPF30 sunblock and my ‘camo’ hat…
Right at the most dangerous hour of the sun’s day, we hit the beach - uncommonly crowded -with bikini-clad housewives, whining and sandy toddlers, as well as bunches of Congolese playing soccer along the surfline in their underpants…
Settling myself down upon a big purple beach towel, I watched as a man hopped along the cold, wet sand with crutches and just one leg. As usually happens (and I’m sure you’ll agree) I tried to pretend it was a ‘normal’ sight, but my heart just ached and ached and ached while I tried not to look… Overwhelmed and humbled, I watched how he abandoned his two crutches just beyond the reach of the climbing waves. Crashing and tumbling, the cold, surging power of the waves pulled and tugged and rolled his sitting-down body… it was almost as if his sheer alive-ness controlled those very waves which threw and dragged his half-body backwards and forwards… What indescribable joy at just being alive!
(Slight anti-climax: then it was home for a nap before heading to my folks for a braai and to watch their latest televised compulsion : “Idols”. Chook, roasted tender and juicy on the Weber and an abundant sufficiency of red wine, the evening was perfectly rounded off with cheesecake and goodbye kisses.)
And now, alone, I sit here, sipping my second glass of red wine and gripped by the reality that “I have a boyfriend”. As much as I resisted this man, his sheer consistent kindness – and his passionate thoughtfulness – he finally melted this hard and fucked up heart of mine : and here I sit enthralled by how he is the very first man to have given me wings to fly. And, as my sister Mandy says : he is ‘fuel for my fire’… (If I continue, I am sure I’d make half of you ‘vrek vokken naar’ with how deeply happy I am!!) OK – time for LISA’S SURPRISE!

Halfway through unpacking his bags the night I picked him up from the airport, Craig handed me a long white envelope, with ‘Lisa’s Surprise’ written in neat blue ball-point across the front. A couple of sparing clues given me over the previous month did not prepare me for what I unfolded from this innocuous envelope.
Five pages evidently printed straight from a website, my mind soaked up text and images in happy disbelief : a weekend away in a dreamy tree-house overlooking a river and nestled in a mountainous valley… Besides the fact that surprises are one of my favourite things EVER, it was this element of surprise, combined with the thoughtful planning, sheer expense and uniqueness of idea that made my heart contract with an excruciating combination of elation and regret : this was the most romantic gesture I’d ever been gifted! (my heart pumped : ‘wow….wow….wow….wow…wow..’)
With my little green Ford Fiesta packed with towels, food, beers and books, we headed out towards Malmesbury along the way to Citrusdal – the sun hot and dazzling through the windows – my car heater somehow managing to have gotten stuck on the red a week before (no comment.) After stopping at a quaint, road-side café near Citrusdal where we were the obvious attraction/distraction for the day – an icy Coke(horribly abrupt break in the story - sorry! - but I promise to contimue writing tonight till it's finished!)

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