Thursday, December 18, 2008
2008 escapes and emergenc(i)es
Well the thing about doing that last meme is that it puts the fear of Christmas in you, and sends you scurrying off to complete a to-do list that grows like invader pond weed as soon as you pay it any attention.
So. Most of the urgents completed - ie, cats and malaria tablets.
And, in a packing / tidying / admin scramble, I found the missing cable for my digital camera so all the blog catch ups become possible now too - ie all the pictures I wanted to show you earlier.
In the spirit of lists, then, I give you some 2008 highlights.
New Year in Bagamoyo - the place to lay down your heart. Writing a play about Livingstone and his crew, I became fascinated by tales of this spot, where slave caravans brought their shackled and malarial cargo, sometimes having walked from as far as Congo. I feel so, so lucky to have been there now and breathed its sultry air. My year started with a grand ambition: to arrange a sponsored walk, along that same old route, to raise money to combat human trafficking.
February to April were spent in a kind of a depressive blur. Writing my play, dreaming and scheming and being broke. And collapsing under the weight of all that could be, if only, if only.
May - A horrible month in South Africa, as xenophobic violence erupts across the country. These events sear right into me. I identify with every displaced person, every travelweary homelost person trying to scrape together money to send home. The lucky ones, who don't get killed by a mob, or burned alive.
One day in May my therapist gets that look in her eye and silently pulls a book from her shelf, hands me a copy of Inanna. Reading this ancient story - such a gorgeous translation, starts to break my state of emergency. I begin to emerge. I start to blog.
June - spent a week in wintry Cape Town designing a show for the Grahamstown Festival. Still in a depressive blur but putting one foot in front of the other. My cat has a dire emergency on our newly installed horrible Joburg spike fence.
July - August - In Malawi, contracted to do a big writing job for the UN. Travel to places I haven't been since I was a teenager. Visit my old school and rescue my shadow selves.
September - October - weeks become months as I try to decipher what the UN really want me to write for them. The papers I read through, if placed end to end, would probably create a path, if not from Joburg to Bagamoyo, then at least to Mangochi. But its an elusive, Hansel and Gretel path with too many twists and u-turns. Unlike in the fairytale, where the lost siblings' trail is erased behind them, in this dream it is the path in front of me that keeps being blown away. The paper trail becomes a snowstorm of dancing pages, taunting me with glimpses of clarity, hurling acronyms and words ending with 'ation'.
I finally hand in a scrappy draft, and we escape to the Waterberg. Ah, the soul of the Waterberg. Deserves a post of its own. Where Eugene Marais wrote the Soul of the White Ant and the Soul of the Ape, (which was plagiarised by that bastard Maeterlink). Make acquaintance with some splendid trees.
November - my greatest achievement of the year. Convincing my house mates that I should paint our garden wall a splendid Mexican blue. The kind of blue that soaks up light and delivers it back when the sun has gone.
December - Cape Town again, briefly - this time in the midst of a heat wave, to visit an old friend. The view from my cousin's house changes each time you look at it. The city bowl. That mountain, it lurks behind the house.
And one long gorgeous jewel of a walk.
And now, as my departure date draws near, I am distracted and full of shifting plans. Like when you go snorkeling in shallow water and see your shadow on the sand beneath you - now its close, now its far away, now its a flat watery shelf and now its tangled in a grove of seaweed. Much of what I planned to accomplish this year did not come to pass. But that's also coz I know I always plan too much, too huge.
2009 is looking manageable. Ironically, as so many people wrestle with shrinking budgets and joblessness I feel somehow more secure than I did at the start of this year. I have some work, at least for the scary months of Jan - April, always tough on the freelancer. I have some plans, much more concrete than last year's ones. Sometimes it really really pays off to have a fallow year and next year feels like its going to be a hottie. As in, the tarmac is hot you have no choice but to fly
Anyone joining me on this? WWWooooooooHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
And I have this:
I am very lucky.