I got a whatsapp message yesterday

It concluded “I really appreciate your friendship”. It made me pause. I have known her for about three weeks. She is a complex and interesting woman. Our relationship is light in some ways and very intense in others, but I hadn’t really thought of her as a friend.

Sharon has acute myeloid leukaemia, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. I am one of the 27% of people who have survived it.

I didn’t blog about it at the time, and I kept it off facebook and Twitter. But I have insights and experience that need to be shared. How it was for me…the small indignities as much as the unspeakable pain. I need to talk about these things now. I need to process the last six months of 2017 in a way that I couldn’t while I was dealing with it.

So I visit the sick and dying – unusual for an atheist. I take sanitary towels and bottled water. I talk and I listen. Which meals on the Fedics menu are the worst… which isolation ward is the best. I show pictures of my tongue, and my legs, taken in September last year. I talk about death. And gossip about the nursing staff.

Sometimes, afterwards, I get into my car in the hospital parking lot and put my head on the steering wheel and sob. But mostly I am quietly centred by the visit. It is therapeutic for me to be back in that space in a different role.

Yes, Sharon is my friend. And I appreciate her friendship too.

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I snorkelled for the first time today.

There is a whole, other, amazing world right there. You just have to look.

Picture me… 49 years old, born and raised on the most beautiful coastline. Regular beach-walker. Happy sea-swimmer (if the current from Mozambique is close to shore)… had absolutely no idea.

Those of you who knew, and didn’t tell me, had better be working on your excuses. There are so many fishes! And to the woman who showed me… thank you.

So I learnt about that today. And this other thing: you can feel very strongly about losing something that you haven’t had. I could write a poem now. The first line would be: “The Weimaraner was beautiful”. I’ll spare you the rest. 🙂

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Hullo blog, it’s been a while…

I am home from the ballet – a rare treat in this town.

I haven’t eaten but I can’t be bothered – a rare thing too!

Since I am in the business of rare things, I thought a blog post would be in order. 

There are things I haven’t reported here:

Thabisa moved out on 8 July last year. I remember, partly, because it was my parents’ wedding anniversary.  Partly because I made a note!

 Our relationship ended a good six or eight months before then, but… you know… logistics.
This blog was about us… about straddling two worlds, so I haven’t really known what to do with it since then. I still don’t, actually.

She sent me a message today saying that someone had posted a picture in the Eastern Cape lesbian chat group and did I know anything about it. Here it is…

Can you see it? The picture of us at the bottom left? Apparently the poster is displayed in the Port Elizabeth CBD. Bit of a cheek, really… JKN did not make our garments – Thembeka Metele of Iza Crafts did. I think I might have to contact JKN and ask where s/he got the picture from. A task for another day…

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1. Read the Koran (start to finish)

2. Get the Jojo tanks installed

Doable, I think.

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Sunday night

I have always been prone to Sunday night syndrome. And it is Sunday night, so take this post with a hefty pinch of salt.

I have had it. I am just so, SO disappointed that I can hardly articulate it, but I will try.

The date for Mdantsane Pride was set at the beginning of the year. It was advertised widely on social media. People were excited – from the response, I expected an enormous turnout. Thabisa worked really hard, and I helped as much as I could. She did the organisational stuff – took time off work to attend endless meetings with Law Enforcement about the arrangements, and handled liaison with the branches and other organisations. I did the fun stuff – commissioned a balloon rainbow, arranged for flags to be made, etc. It was time consuming, but we were both really looking forward to it.

The march was scheduled to start at 12 noon, but Thabs asked people to gather at 11am so that we could paint posters together.

At noon, when we were scheduled to march, there were 25 people gathered. That isn’t a typo: TWENTY-FIVE!

The police didn’t pitch.

There was reluctance in the group to march without the police. “It is the township, not the suburbs,” someone said to me, “there is serious intolerance here – we are not safe”.

While Mfundi kept the vibe going, Thabs and Rave spent ages on the phone trying to get through to Law Enforcement to find out what had happened. Thabs had left, at home, the contract that she had signed with the Traffic Department, so it was difficult to make progress. At 1.30pm I left to go to fetch it. When I left Mdantsane to go home, there were 27 people present.

I didn’t go back to Mdantsane. I phoned Thabs and gave her the telephone numbers on the contract, and said that my instinct was that the police would not turn up and the march should be called off. She said that she would discuss it with everyone. I asked her to let me know.

She says that she was so busy dealing with the issue, and trying to hold things together, that she didn’t really understand that I was waiting for her to call me back. I settled down with a series. After an episode I called to find out what had happened. It turned out that the march had taken place. Without police protection, a tiny TINY group of people marched from Mdantsane City to Kasha Circle, waving flags and asserting their right to be who they are.

I am so proud of them. They did it.

And I am SO disappointed in all the people who said that they would, but didn’t… the people who travelled from all over the province for the after-party. Apparently Jeff’s place was packed to the gills last night with happy LGBTI people. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Explain it to me, please, people… explain why you will travel to PE and Knysna and Durban and Soweto to go to those Prides, but you won’t support one in Mdantsane? WHY? Why do you all want to buy flags (and grumble that only 16 were made) but you don’t want to wave them in Mdantsane? WHY?

I am so over it.

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People at a wedding

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It was a swelteringly hot day in East London yesterday. The School Communicator popped up on my computer screen at mid-day. An alarming red notice said that after-school sport was cancelled owing to the heat.

Thabisa’s mother phoned in the evening. Apparently it was unbearable in Mthatha and everyone was looking forward to the rain that would break the heatwave, but then ominous storm clouds gathered. “My mom said that it looked really bad,” Thabs reported. “They even had to go out and shout embo”.


Thabs takes a breath and explains. “When very bad weather threatens, everyone goes out of their houses and waves a plate at the sky and shouts EEEEMMMMMBBBOHHH. It means ‘go far away’. EEEEMMMMMBBBOHHH! apho kulalwa ngengubo enye. Go far away! to where people only sleep with one blanket.”

“Where’s that?” I ask.

“No-one knows.”

I clearly look sceptical.

“It works! It really does, Gail. The rain goes away. Or, if it was going to be bad, it is just a gentle rain.”

A moment’s reflection.

“But it doesn’t work for tornadoes. There is nothing you can do about a tornado.”

There. Now you know something you didn’t know yesterday.

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