Geography has always been an issue in my life. Distance, between family and I, friends and I, loved ones and I. I love the landscapes that have created me, but for the most part they are far flung, and the spaces between them vast. Sites sewn together with with long knotted roads. From Chibembe to Mazabuka and back again twice a year, then Mfuwe to Blantyre and back again, with Monkey Bay detours. Grahamstown to Mfuwe. Cape Town and home again. Now Johannesburg. I love long car journeys, they lull me. Rough roads? Can't scare me.
My man is from Natal. Durbs. He's a Durbs boy. Like me he has ancestry in Germany, but unlike me, he wears this more confidently - mothertongue speaker, and lots of heritage coursing through the family customs. My father was a lone wanderer to these shores, whereas his parents came lock stock and Bible. His father was a Lutheran missionary.
To ask his family and our friends to trek all the way to Zambia would be - well, expensive. And it would be stressful, for the infrastructure that exists in my home village is... um... rustic. The thought exhausts me.
I've written about that crossroads moment we had, the two of us. When B fled to the Buddhist Retreat Centre in the singing hills of Ixopo. When he was there, he made a friend. When I met this friend later, we too became friends, realising we had all sorts of Zambian connections - a lovely small world story. Now this friend owns a farm near Dullstroom, in Mpumalanga, the land of the rising sun. The farm is called Tonglen. Its a very beautiful, magical, spirit-enhancing spot. And we have decided to get married there. More rolling hills, and craggy ravines, and a dharma centre built from the stone on the farm. So far so good. Spirit, beauty, and it means something to us both.
The place, however, is at the end of a very rough and rocky road. So, well, there are logistics. Guests must gather at a central point, we need to rally together all the 4x4 owners in the family and ferry people up the hill to the Event. The last stretch is about 20 minutes, and is nasty. Rocky and shale and really steep. Ok, so a bit of coordination needed. But still, in my minds eye, it's perfect, because once we are up there, we have the place entirely to ourselves, and its not a wedding venue 'sausage factory', if you know what I mean. Rather than pay ridiculous fees to some lurve farm, we can give something back to a place we care about, and contribute to the upkeep of Tonglen. That of course, and it's name - the beautiful practice of exchanging self for other. More on that another time.
But how did my guest list get so huge? My ideal number was 50. We sat down together and made a strict list. But people seemed to creep on, and it grew arms, legs, sidestreets... one person couldn't come so I invited another, and then the first person made a plan... and so it went.
When I tallied up all the rsvps and saw the final number, I think the whites of my eyes must've started to show. 70 people? Really? Ok, some of those are kids, but... really?
Then the late night qualms came. The kind where you visualise the caterers broken down at the bottom of the road and walking up the main courses in the sweltering sun. The kind where I have to bring in a porta-loo. Where the minister is stranded on another farm...Oh dear.
Think of the views, Tamara, think of the views...
Well, we are going to check it out this weekend, so pics will be forthcoming next week.
In the meantime, a wee something that I scribed when I was there some time back. I'm no poet (seriously), but it may give you a mood of the place.
We’ve come to the palace of the kings.
The shy gatekeepers
let us in.
Laughter from the temple
this gleaming floor.
The shades are playful
against the glass
and in the valley,
The page squeaks as it turns.
I didn’t bring a notebook this time.
I’m using his.
Those girls walking on the slopes
flowing in white
blessing the path with their treadsteps
and filling their breath with
the earths own blessing.
Bees vibrate the air.
a wind chime records a passing thought.
I’d write a love poem
on the flesh of this tree,
on its silver skin.
I’d record my heartsong
on this rock
soft with afternoon heat.
I’d weave these sounds –
the girls in the distance on their walk
the boys worshipping
with laughter. The steady bees.
I’d dance a thin tune
in the weaving air,
stamp my quiet feet on this
I’d measure my heartbeat
and distil these growing thoughts
in a trickle of melody.
but I don’t want to hurt
[and what am I going to do to that silence now?]