7:50 am and I am back.
Back to my kitchen, to my laptop, to writing.
I am full to overflowing with thoughts and feelings. I have an app brimming with notes, impressions and ideas that came to me while I was out there, roaming and living and discovering in South Africa.
It was hard to write without a laptop, harder still to get the brain space with a child who needed to do homework and, more importantly, needed to share his experiences with me.
And I wanted to see all that, share all that with him.
But now it’s Monday, he’s gone to school, and I’m happy to be able to return to proper writing.
The thing is, I have too much to say. Five weeks worth of ideas all jumbled together and clambering to get out. Beginnings of stories, references to people and places.
I feel a bit shell-shocked. A bit out of place and time.
You know that feeling you get when you return from a holiday and it immediately feels like a dream? Like you never left?
I hate the way a holiday fades – quickly as though, after only a few days, it seems more a vivid dream than a sizeable chunk of the recent past.
How can such a huge experience feel like it never happened? I have all these memories, I crossed continents, drifted through airports, even did a boat tour in Amsterdam, and yet it feels like I never left.
And yet. Little things jar me and seem out of place. As though there has been a time lag somewhere or a wrinkle in time.
The local radio station and its news – news that actually seems novel again.
The feeling of a watch on my wrist after not wearing one for weeks.
The relative cold outside.
Driving on the – what side do we drive on here again? Well, driving. I keep trying to put the car in drive with my left hand and there’s only window there.
The way the grocery store or pharmacy seems similar, but different at the same time.
The accents, or lack thereof.
The scratches on my wedding band from scrambling through rock pools and up Table Mountain.
And the flashbacks. Glimpses in my mind’s eye of the shower, the bed, the kitchen, the garden in our little corner of a lodge which is now far, far away.
If I allow myself to sink into these flashbacks, to think about them, then it starts to feel real again, as though maybe I was actually there after all.
And then there’s the people who keep coming to mind.
People I grew fond of and whom I miss. Really miss.
Of course it was hard to leave the wild beauty of the Western Cape, with the mountains everywhere, the crashing, turquoise waves, the pace of life into which I slipped easily comfortably.
And on most holidays, I feel as though I could stay forever. We tend to avoid big resorts and instead choose places that allow us to live, however briefly, like locals. Maine, Mexico, and now South Africa.
Travelling like this does have a way of pulling me in and settling me. Of lulling me into a false sense of what it would be like to actually live there.
But the difference this time, other than the sheer length of the holiday, was the people. I really connected with people. I made friends. I met people that I would want to be friends with no matter where they were or how I met them. They were not contacts or acquaintances of convenience – those people who we may hang out with but who we wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, choose as friends – they actually meant something…no, they mean something.
I watched my son have the same experience.
It’s wonderful to watch, and to experience, friendships develop with people who live very different lives, who come from a very different place, and yet who seem so in tune, so in step, so familiar.
So, here I am, back in my kitchen, indulging my dream-like memories and bringing you along for the ride (forgive me for rhapsodizing just a bit).
The trick now will be to bring all I learned and everything I saw into my daily life – into real life. To bridge the gap between there and here.