My dad had many little quotes and sayings and this was one of them. This has felt especially true for my mother after his passing. She has the freedom to go anywhere whenever with whomever and come home at any time but the price of him not being there is just too great a cost.
I moved to Stellenbosch at the end of April. It is literally the neighboring town and 20kms away. I underestimated the impact of this move on my life. When you first move to a new town and have a young, growing family, you make a ton of ‘mom’ friends. It’s ante-natal classes and baby swimming and moms & tots and then its playschool and kindergarten and junior school. You are intricately involved in the busy lives of your offspring, which is all consuming. You engage with your community and roll up your sleeves getting stuck in. Every time you go to the store you bump into someone you know and have a yak. You fit and you belong and you are part of the puzzle with your piece fitting in seamlessly. It’s comfortable and safe and familiar. And a little stagnant too.
So after 16 years we made the move and found a house to rent close to the girls’ school and in the town where Daniel lives. Stellies is a university town so an eclectic mix of students and families and old Afrikaans families that have lived there forever. We own our previous home which has been renovated a few times to fit us perfectly. This new home is a rental and for Gary, not his home. He understands the need for convenience of being close to the schools but it is just not his home. The girls and I are more flexible and we are happy to live in this house that has this fantasy beautiful enormous garden and pool. It will be spectacular in the summer that creeps around in a few months time. When your kids are teens you are less involved and mothers have long since got their groups of established friends. I get it, I do and I try not to take it personally.
I drive up and down all afternoon fetching and carrying and being 5 minutes from school stays an amazing novelty. In summer they can walk down although this is probably an unrealistic fantasy. I have found a doctor and a dentist and I am building up my infrastructure network. Just not my personal network. I pretend to be cool and not needy so casually ask if anyone can help me out with a ride for my girls. After no response I find one…it’s uber. When I go down to the store I bump into no one for a random chat in the pasta aisle. One would think this is great, being anonymous but it’s not. But…I have running. And not just regular running, I have the trails. More forest and mountains than I could ever hope to cover. I walk out my house up the road and I am in the mountains. I have found such a fun trail group I run with on a Wednesday and Friday morning. Another social group on a Thursday morning. I also have a friend, a real life friend who is my Tuesday partner and we yak all the way. When my marathon is done I will join the walking moms once a week as we head for the mountains with an assortment of over excited dogs.
Human contact and interaction and belonging with the added gift of my mountain and forest. It is not the close network of friends who I had. No one will randomly pop in for tea or a glass of wine and somehow my old friends don’t seem to make the 20km drive out to Stellies to hook up. It’s the price I pay for living in this beauty. The loss of a close spontaneous friendship circle and support. The loss of my familiar home with its cozy fireplace and a non grumbly husband because he was happy there. It is good practice and a reality check if I ever relocate to another country. The lonely non belonging will be even worse. It HAS to be somewhere exquisite be it mountains, lakes, forest or oceans and I will always run and run and run. Everything comes at a price.