Thursday, 18 February 2010


I’ve been thinking a lot about security in the last couple of weeks. One of the things that has become clear in the process of considering next steps, and I suppose I was aware of before that, is that security is something I’m unlikely to have much of in the next phase of my life. This comes in several forms. The most obvious is that the security of fitting into well-rehearsed boxes by having a job, a car, a mortgage and 2 and a half kids is not the path I am choosing. So middle-class security, which makes some people perfectly happy and traps and makes miserable many others, is not going to be for me. Or at least not something I choose.

Of course, if my dreams come true and I do end up working in emergency humanitarian relief situations, personal security (both physical and psychological) will probably also be threatened. An article on this blog (which I recently discovered and am a little bit in love with) points out that this should be a consideration and concern not only for the individual planning to enter this kind of work but also because his/her family may struggle with this. I worry a little about that, but my family seems to have accepted that I am likely to do dangerous things and be in strange places. I hope they’ll be able to handle it. I am pretty sure I will. I suppose it helps that living in South Africa I haven’t been used to feeling completely secure and even still find it a little odd here.

There is another form of security - the security of home. ‘Home’ is a concept with which I have struggled for a long time. I have an ambivalent relationship with the idea. On the one hand, I’m pretty good at making a home wherever I am. This can mean anything from sewing curtains and planting flowers to going for walks and making friends with the local shop-keepers. On the other hand, I have an extremely strong sense of place, so ‘home’ is always the places that I long for, for which my heart yearns. I have a friend who is living in New Zealand and often bemoans the difficulty of explaining to people why she misses Africa. I completely understand. This longing, when expressed in words, often sounds ridiculous. Most people do not understand how someone can long for red sand and street lights in the shape of a question mark. Or the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs below you and the empty expanses of sea. Or the wind whipping your hair around as hold onto the bars on the back of an open bakkie and rumble and hurtle along farm roads in the dusk, on your way to the dam or back home from visiting the far lands. Or the view from Rhodes Memorial. Anyway, most people don’t get why that is hard.

In the past, I’ve struggled with both ideas of home. After only 8 months in my apartment here in the RoK, I’m now moving again (in 4 days time, as finalised today - my life is a joke). What surprises me is that, apart from the admin of trying to organise the move, I’m actually fine with it (now that we’ve established there is a bus route nearby). I don’t mind that much. I feel as though I should care. Moving house has always been a traumatic experience for me before. I suppose I have learnt something about traveling light. I will sit this evening – with a glass of wine – and fit everything into bags and suitcases. There isn’t all that much to pack. Perhaps the trauma and angst has been delayed. Perhaps I just didn’t like this apartment. Perhaps, just maybe, I’m ready to let go of some of the security of home and settle wherever I end up, with no more than a picture, some postcards, a sturdy bottle-opener and a laptop to keep in touch.

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