My achievements for 2019, thus far
1) Not a single library fine.
2) Met the Vitality Active Rewards target every week.
What I love about Makhanda
1) It has taught me how important names are. I had to dig around inside myself to work out why running along Fitzroy Street and under the Jenner Railway Bridge made me happy every day. The names of my settler antecedents connect this place to ME. The corollary is that that the settler names are exclusionary. I understand this. I cut short a burgeoning correspondence with an old school friend who now lives in Australia when he wrote, “It will always be Grahamstown to me”. I started a missive along the lines of “Really? Will Harare always be Salisbury to you?” I deleted the draft and left it. I am maturing.
2) The fence around the cricket grounds at Graeme College, where it borders on Milner Road, goes in a “box” around a gum tree. Gum trees are not indigenous. It should have been felled and the fence should run in a straight line. Even though it isn’t waterwise, I love that someone decided, in spite of the extra expense, that we should rather have the tree. (I can’t explain this. It isn’t rational).
3) I love the donkeys braying in the still of the night. (“They’re cute, but don’t touch them, they have fleas,” was one of Lucy’s tips about living here).
4) I loved imagining my children in this space. Sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of a young man with Dan’s build and beard and it was like his spirit was here, giving me a hug. (“Walk down Prince Alfred towards Somerset for better Eduroam signal,” said Lucy, as our Whatsapp call started to break up).
5) I will really miss Stuart Bentley. Putting the world to rights over a Garvey coffee with him, coming third in the Rat and Parrot pub quiz (“comrades, we are in this to WIN!”), and reading the kind of fiction I would not ordinarily pick up, are all lovely things. The way he would look up from his workstation in the Post Grad Commons if I arrived after 9am, raise his eyebrows and tap an imaginary watch on his wrist, is an image that will flash through my mind when I am late for anything, anywhere, always.
6) Tracey Feltham-King. It might have been kak without her. Newly moved to Makhanda. A partner living elsewhere. The perfect book-launch/movie/public lecture/trail run/supper buddy. Perfect because we have congruent interests on almost everything. What a luck. It might not have been kak without her, but there is no way that this year would have been any way as good as it has been, if she weren’t in it in the way that she was.
Listen to me. I am like the supermarket that puts up Christmas decor at the end of September. The year is not over. I have three weeks and day left here. “What I love about Makhanda, points (7) through (10)” will follow at some other time.