Monthly Archives: July 2018

The new world

And just like that we’re in a new city, in a new country and on a new continent. Almost everything we own is in a big steel box sitting on a dock in Cape Town waiting for its papers to travel. We’re living in an apartment, which is nice, but obviously much smaller than what we’re used to and there’s no dog constantly threatening to stand up on her hind legs (to almost human height) and gobble up all the food left carelessly within reach of humans. We miss her. We miss our family. We miss our home.

But everything here is new and that’s the upside. We’re like explorers setting foot on a new world, everywhere we go, it’s the first time we’ve been there. That’s a pretty unusual thing. I’m not saying our trip to the convenience shop at the local filling station last night at ten was particularly exciting or noteworthy, but it was the first time we’d bought anything in Australia and by extension, is a memory. Of course, the little guys, were a little nonplussed to find out that we were not going to buy Australian sweets for them – the primary reason for that was of course the fact that we don’t actually understand Australian sweets yet, not because we’re mean parents.

Obviously there are bigger differences that we’ve noticed, like the fact that this place is really wall to wall full of Australians. Getting used to their accent is definitely going to be a challenge. However, that’s not to say that we don’t understand the accent, because we do. It is in fact pretty similar to a South African accent in that it is also quite flat. When one is in America, for example, one is often mistaken for an Australian. But one must stop speaking in the third person singular and continue with the story.

No, the Australian accent is not a problem, it is the fact that everybody around us speaks with the accent that is the key thing, I think, that drives home the fact that we’re in another country. Yes, that and the fact that there’s no Oros here and that they put the cheese on top of the toppings on the pizza.

My sons weathered the trip over here very well, better than I did to be honest. In total, we flew for about fourteen hours and they slept right through most of that. I however did not. I spent those hours sitting up watching a very small little screen while my eldest boy stretched his gangly legs across me. The boys weren’t that enamored with the aeroplane food though, which is why we smuggled peanut butter and syrup sandwiches onto the flight (that we’re lovingly prepared by ’Da’). I myself snacked on a half sandwich to supplement the beef dinner in the foil container (that was eaten with plastic utensils).

Driving to our accommodation from the airport was a breeze (after we figured out how to get the car started) because we had a personal Sherpa in the form of a good friend ’from the old country’, who has made a home her, married a local lass and is raising two halflings of his own. He also helped us port the lions share of our luggage in his car. Included in the trip was a drive by of two key tourist attractions which we duly took shaky snaps of from the car, from behind tinted windows, on a cell phone. So, you know, really quality pictures.

I must confess that we got off to rather a shaky start in the hotel. The lift, by way of example, doesn’t work without the room key and the sequence of events to actually get the box moving is more complicated than one would imagine. Ditto for the front door and the lights to the room. The beds though, they worked as advertised and we slept well into the next day like we’d been out partying all night long.

Now, of course, it’s almost three in the morning here and the boys and I are all wide awake, drinking milk, asking questions like ’is it morning yet?’ and eating what can only be described as small, delicious, bacon-flavored rusks (courtesy of our Sherpa). My wife has to work in the morning and is doing her level best to stay asleep. I don’t envy her.

So, here we are, settling in, we have not as yet seen any poisonous local snakes or dog-sized spiders, thankfully, our fingers are firmly crossed that this trend will continue. Outside, Australia awaits.

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The house

In a few more days, the place we’ve called home for just short of eight years, will be an empty shell. We’re moving home, country and continent and the bricks we’ve surrounded ourselves with will soon surround nothing but memories.

Tonight is the last night I’m going to spend in this house and I thought it fitting that I paid a brief tribute to it by wandering around it in my mind and jotting down the things that stand out.

Some of the memories I have will have a physical record that will linger on long after we’ve left. Things like the growth chart on the bedroom door recording heights and dates in permanent marker. It’s been painted over now to make it look fresh and shiny, but it’s still there, under the surface and will probably be there until the door is replaced. I like the idea that someday, paint might chip off the door and then a little bit out our history here will resurface.

Then there’s the boy-cave in the bottom of the garden, reserved for members only, where bricks have been carefully stacked into seats and a table and all the favourite sticks are propped up in the corner. It’s a little overgrown but it’s there, built by determined, muddy little hands at play.

I took a picture of the rows of stickers on the wall next to the toilet where potty training was done. These are badges of accomplishment and a reminder of all the times we cheered the little guys on for making it to the toilet on time. They will be removed by the new owners, I’m sure, but they’ve been there for a long time and now that I’ve snapped a picture of them for this post, they’re likely to live on a lot longer.

I want to add a shoutout to the chalkboard paint wall in the kitchen, where I was tasked to draw (and redraw) Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and the like in chalk despite not really having much of a knack for chalk as a medium. It’s blank now, but it used to have the school schedule scrawled on it and was where activities for the term were plotted out next to reminders to buy peanut butter. I’m going to miss that.

The kitchen island was the center of the house, complete with two stools that had boys planted in them every morning, afternoon and evening for mealtimes. This too is where the feeding chairs used to be and by extension from where food was spread evenly and generously all over the kitchen. I’m pretty sure there’s solidified (petrified) baby food and peanut-butter under the rim of the counter. It’s also where homemade pizza’s were crafted from raw ingredients and dished out in slices to hungry mobs.

There’s the spot behind the couches in the living room where literally endless hours of LEGO was imagined and planned and built and played with. Sound effects were usually added for Star Wars LEGO and for me, will always echo there.

That one garden sprinkler, just off the patio, that popped up during a play session on the grass and then created a jolly good mud bath has been digitally recorded. I’d like to think that when it jumps up out of the ground in the future (once the drought is over), it might just remember a sunny afternoon when it surprised a one year old boy in a red t-shirt and a nappy and got to witness pure joy.

The two steps into the dining room represent obstacles that my boys, and our dog, had to navigate successfully before they could move freely about the house. They were at times naughty steps where time-outs were had and the very place where shoelaces were tied every morning before school. Also responsible for bruises and tears when warnings of ‘go backwards down the stairs’ were not heeded.

The walls and ceilings in the room where light shows were held, complete with stars and planets and rockets and the odd shadow puppet made with clumsy hands by the dad. All burned into our memories.

I almost want to leave post-it notes around the house to tell the new owners that the bunk-beds go here and the changing table goes there and this step is where the shoes are clumped together until they reach a critical mass. Oh, and over here, on the carpet in the afternoons, the sun streams in and makes the little guy look like sprite while he plays with his cars.

The walls and ceilings and floors have absorbed thousands of hours of laughter, tears and tantrums, shrieks of joy, endless conversations about everything and anything that popped into little heads at bedtime and uncountable bedtime stories.

We’ll take these memories with us when we go and I hope somehow, the house remembers us.