Now that everything has settled after the move (the dust … and me), I want to quickly jot down an update of our new Johannesburg lives.
I am sitting at my desk in my office, wrapping up work for the day and listening to the August winds rattling the leaves on the many trees in our garden. The only one I can identify is a massive avocado, with its beautiful bounty of fruit far too high to be reached by anyone on any kind of ladder. It’s no good to me, basically, but I like the sound its leaves make. The dogs are lying in a patch of sun in the dining room and the gas heater next to me hasn’t been switched on in a week. My office is usually the coldest room in the house but I’ve bene feeling Spring in the air the last few days. The sky is a bright pastel blue, as it has been every single day in the seven weeks since we moved here.
Our cleaner is here today (praise be!) but most days, I finish work at around 3 and do some housework before going to fetch the boy from his daycare in Rosebank, which is about a seven-minute drive, then we come home and I stick him in the pram and we walk around the block to fetch his sister from her school. It’s Monday today, so we’ll do some baking when we get home so that she’s got muffins or biscuits or something to put in her lunchbox for school. Dylan will get home at about 10 past five, because it takes him about 10 minutes to get home from the office in rush-hour traffic, and then we’ll feed and bath the kids and put them to bed, and then we’ll watch at least five episodes of Community before we turn in. (Somehow I am convinced that Community is the coolest, cleverest TV comedy ever, though don’t really remember why until I watch five episodes back to back.)
That’s what life has been like pretty much since we got here for me – very routine, with a lot more time with the kids than before, and substantially more housework than I ever did when we had a full-time nanny.
I’ve also got back into running properly – I’ve got a couple of races coming up, and do a Park Run nearby every Saturday morning – and have started doing a gym class once a week as well, even though the gym is a full 10 minutes away, which is about the furthest I drive during the week. We go for long walks on Sunday mornings to the epic playground at the park, with the dogs, who swim in the streams and run through the dry, yellow veld and everyone you pass with their dogs and their kids and on their bikes just looks so happy – I had no idea how well utilised parks like these are in Joburg, or how active people are here.
I’m interviewing au pairs this week to try to find a babysitter so that Dylan and I can go out for dinner or to the theatre or to friends’ houses one evening every week. There’s a cute little spot down the road with a jumping castle and tiny pizzas for kids where we go for a drink on a Friday, so it’s not like we’re not getting out, and we’ve had family and friends over to ours for braais and drinks every weekend, plus we’re working our way through the (not terribly long) list of kid-friendly decent Joburg restaurants for Sunday lunches (we went to Mezepoli at Melrose Arch yesterday, and basically Melrose Arch is the V&A Waterfront with more Ferraris and fewer boats), but working from home means I start feeling a little cabin-fevery by the time Wednesday comes around, and there are so many really great restaurants nearby that I’m desperate to try. So please keep your fingers crossed that we find the right person soon, so that Date Night can start becoming A Thing. We are really missing the grannies, who always made it so easy for us to make evening plans.
We have weekends away booked for every month until December, when the plan is for the kids and I to be in Cape Town for the whole
month, and I’m really excited to go back and reconnect with everyone we love who’s there, but I’m also a little terrified that it will be really hard to come back. Right now, I’m happy here – way happier than I thought possible, probably because we live in such a fantastic area in a really nice house, how lucky are we – but I think once I’ve had a reminder of how wonderful life in Noordhoek was and can be, it will take another two months for me to feel at home here again.
When I see people posting pictures of Cape Town, and Noordhoek especially, on social media, I feel a little wounded, and flinch, and look away, feeling like someone who’s recently been jilted and sees a photo of their ex on Facebook looking happier and more beautiful than they remember. I feel like I’m keeping it together here, and coping, and living a pretty happy life, but somewhere deep down I know that that’s only because I’m not comparing this place to the one we left.