I’m back from my incredible journey. My baby sister was married in a breathtakingly beautiful ceremony and reception, and is now off on her fabulous honeymoon,
I have gained at least 5lbs enjoying South African cuisine,
I got to spend time with every one of my five siblings (and their spouses!)
meet my darling nephews and spend lots of time cuddling….(and be babied a bit by my mom and dad)
I smelled the smells of my childhood (jasmine and yesterday, today and tomorrow blossoms)
(This is the Johannesburg skyline on the night that left as seen from my parents house.)
And here’s a peacock I ran into on my travels…no big deal.
There was a little bit of chilling out amidst the hectic pace, and thanks to my sister Shona, it was done in style, my friends..
Aaron was phenomenal in my absence. I did not doubt he would be but he always exceeds my highest expectations. September is a nutty month for us at the best of times, with sports and school and and and…and he rose to the occasion with aplomb. He not only kept the home fires burning, he also kept the kids on schedule, taxi-ed them endlessly, arranged for rides when he could not be in 5 places at the same time, AND even found time to clean the house spotlessly for my return, repaint the deck, scrub the bathroom ceiling (yes, the ceiling), wash the slipcovers on the couches, change the bed-linens, buy fresh flowers and hold down a full time job. He is a marvel and a miracle and he makes me feel pretty inadequate.
When Aaron was at work, Ella was watched by the sweetest friends and I have to say the most surreal thing about the entire experience was the fact that almost immediately upon leaving the States I could not get a firm grasp on my memories of Ella. I had photos and video to refer to of course, and I cognitively remembered things about her, but I truly could not imagine the essence of her, how we spent our time together, how it felt to be with her. When Aaron sent me photos of her she looked only vaguely familiar. It was the strangest, most disconnected surreal experience. I’m pretty sure it was a coping mechanism to keep me from having a completely miserable time for which I am grateful. Last night when I got home exhausted to the bone, I was instantly energized at the sight of four little faces pressed excitedly against the glass front door but, as I suspected and feared, Ella’s held back and her little face just looked completely confused and a little bit wary. She let me scoop her up but continued to regard me with curious detachment as I hugged and kissed the others. And then finally she laid her head on my chest, and I realized that if I’d emotionally remembered what it felt like to have her do that, I would probably have cried myself to sleep every night.
I left in September, the night before I flew out of Chicago we stayed out late. The kids played in Millenium park. Ella’s pudgy thighs were on perfect display in a little white skirt. It was balmy and warm. It looked and felt like Summer.
I returned in October. (I like to point out that I left South Africa in September and only arrived in the States in October. Door to door it took 31 hours but it sounds more impressive when you talk in months . ) As Aaron and I drove home from Chicago, I savoured the trees gloriously ablaze with colour. A definite chill is in the air. There is no question that it is Autumn. The kids are in long sleeves and jeans, and tell me about how daddy made them spiced cider and cobbler in my absence. (Dude is a tough act to follow.) I felt compelled to buy a delicious smelling candle and ingredients for pumpkin bread today….it’s definitely the cozy time of year.
I always struggle mightily to adjust to my former life when I return from South Africa. That struggle often descends into a downward spiral of depression, but I am hopeful that I will weather the adjustment more hardily this time. I generally come back here in the dead of Winter after enjoying an idyllic South African summer holiday. It is almost always a rude and unpleasant shock to my system. Maybe coming back to one of my favourite times of year here, will be a balm to my soul in the absence of its spiritual home and extended family. I’ve got to say that I do feel weird and unsettled though. It might have something to do with the fact that as I write this at 10pm, my body is telling me that it is 4am or it might be that I feel as though I just came from another world..which essentially I did. Regardless, I feel weird….and I hope that feeling passes soon…because..well…it’s weird.
Must try to grab some sleep now. Sooooo many more photos and memories will hopefully find their way here soon, although of course the family that has been abandoned for the last 2 weeks must take precedence, so no promises of blinding efficiency..Tweet this!