This one is a little harder to write about. He was not 100% light, 100% dark or frog or prince. In fact he was neither and both as most people are. Picture the scene: It is my second year out of high school and I had returned from my modelling adventures. My tiny Durbanville world had expanded and all of sudden the pond I lived in felt very small. I had registered to study at Stellenbosch University and would start class in the Feb. I started waitressing at the Hard Rock café for cash as I decide I in fact hated modelling and just could NOT do another meaningless shoot again. We were part of the opening crew and it was fun and exciting. The GM had 2 housemates and they lived in Camps Bay. We all thought they were rather glamorous and worldly compared to us Northern suburbs chicks. The one house mate ran the bar but drank too much of his own stock to be sexy. Remember Billy! He later opened Ricks Café in town where he ruled the roost. The other was dark and slightly brooding and drove a red Carmen Gia little sports car. He was 25 to my 19 and had travel led extensively.
SD was unlike any of the boys I had ever met. In fact he wasn’t a boy, he was a real life man. Working in a restaurant is a love hate job. The slog of working nights and having to leave a perfectly good beach day or barbie. Dealing with demanding and rude customers and late nights and sore feet. But, that heady sexy vibe of working with young people from all walks of life. Meeting people undecided about where they meant to be right now. Sharing a common purpose of being purposeless and free for a little while. Boys and girls and late nights and lots of energy and the nightly rituals of all having a drink together. It’s a recipe for plenty flirting and then some. Of course having many gay people in the business just made it that much more fun as there was always some party on the go. After months of this flirty sexy vibe it happened and I fell hard. I had to break up with Andrew and it was horrendously sad. Breaking someone’s heart has got to be one of the shittest things a person can do. The pull of that direction when I hit that fork was just too strong and I ran down the road and threw caution to the universe.
Tertia & I had also applied for a flat in Mouille Point with Kirsty and getting the lease and meeting the man meant goodbye Stellenbosch, studying, Durbanville. A whole new direction because of one guy. A new career path, place to live and a way of seeing myself.
The next 6 years involved plenty traveling all over and doing random jobs in foreign countries. I waitressed, I tutored, I cleaned houses, I sold clothing in a store, I sold flowers on the streets. I met amazing people and ate different foods. I lived in so many different places as I knew my family back home were my base and my safe place to come home too. At 20 I went to hotel school and studied for 3 years while still continuing to waitress and travel in between. SD never settled but worked in various restaurants. I knew he should probably get a real job at some point but at that stage it didn’t bother me. We pooled our money and bought a 100 year old Victorian house in Woodstock. We did all the renovating ourselves sanding floors and painting and building cupboards. My very own house which I loved. All our friends worked in restaurants too and Monday nights were when everyone came over to dinner to eat SD’s amazing cooking, drink wine, smoke weed and talk crap. I loved most of that time but eventually I DID grow up and that lost searching soul that had issues and was just too intense became harder to picture as a husband. Good for boyfriend material, bad for husband.
1995 was another travel year. After a few months in London saving some pounds we headed over to San Francisco which we both loved. Our trip was planned for a year but we cut it short as Daniel was conceived. Late night talks and wine and weed and traveling and instability are no longer attractive when you pregnant and want to build your little nest. No medical aid or secure monthly income, not so much. Of course I put my blinkers on, put my hands over my ears and we continued with our birth and wedding plans. I assumed he would grow up when our baby arrived. Silly delusional me like many other silly delusional women who think men will change once a child comes along. The cliché of it all is almost embarrassing. To cut a long and painful story short, I had the baby, a boy, my beautiful boy. He found another young waitress he worked with to replace the now milky maternal me and had an affair. (I found this out months later after we had broken up) I had an epiphany one random day. In fact it was the 6th of January and Daniel was 6 months old. An aha Oprah moment that had come about after we had postponed our wedding which was to be the 15th of January. He would not change by May (our new wedding date) or by the next year or the one after that. He would not be responsible and take care of us and grow roots. He would continue to search and always feel vaguely disappointed that this was life and only this. I would never make him happy nor anyone else he would ever meet. He was who he was. I did it, I called him at work and called it all off. I gave up on the dream of the wedding and the dress, my perfect family, I moved out of my darling house, I lost a ton of weight and half of my hair but I salvaged my soul and the distant promise of something better which I knew I was worthy of. It remains the bravest thing I have ever done or will ever do.
But it’s not all gloom and pain, that’s the beauty. That fork had many amazing moments along the way. SD gave me a love of traveling and an appreciation for diversity. We had enormous fun together for most of the time until I got pregnant. We loved our little house in Woodstock. (I used half of my money to do my boobs years later!!) He also gave me Daniel and his wanderlust means Daniel is 100% mine and I have never had to share him. (As we speak SD is now aged 47 and on a yet another sabbatical in San Francisco!!) I also learned so much about myself and my capacity. My strength, my ability to raise my boy alone, my courage not to settle. I won’t say it wasn’t excruciating and recovery came quickly. It took years. I also cannot say I don’t have scars on my heart that was able to love so abundantly before. But I will say it’s all part of who I am and I am grateful for what I took from those 6 crazy, intense years.
PS. You know how some frogs are arseholes? He isn’t actually one of them. He is not mean or nasty or horrible or rude or cruel. Absent, lost and distant yes, arsehole no.