It’s been a long time since I’ve written a memoir chapter.
I’ve just re-read Secondary to help me pick up where I left off. The thing is, you can never do that. As Heraclitus said, "You can’t step into the same river twice". That moment has gone. I’m not the same person who wrote those words. It’s still my truth … from then. This is now.
We recently returned from a long-awaited trip to South Africa where I walked with my old self. I revisited my High School halls, her tree-lined paths and left-behind memories. Secondary was largely sombre. This walk was wonder. Feelings flowed, my heart glowed and my world slowed.
Joy bubbled to the surface. I remembered the freedom of youth. My dreams and desires, optimism and her inner fires.
And as we drove around my old hometown streets, everything looked so sweet. Ripe and juicy like a sun-kissed fruit at her peak plumpness. She invited me to take a bite, to remember, to know.
Delicious nostalgia fed my soul. My usual seeking stopped. I tasted presence. I expanded in that moment. Everything was open.
It’s interesting that last month marked 20 years since I arrived in England. A milestone that’s been on my mind. Nearly half my life. I call both countries home … but also accept that I’m still to find my forever home. I’m untethered. My roots forever severed.
I have a deep sense of knowing that home is my heart. My journey inward is an endless sky.
I float. I fleet. I fly.
University was always a given. I grew up on stories of its fun, frivolity and freedom. Equal measure learning, laughing and loving. And so, I followed the family footsteps into a psychology degree at The University of Pietermaritzburg. A small town centred around student life. Far enough away yet close enough to: home.
Rather than finding the study of psychology mind-expanding, I found it life-limiting. It seemed like everyone wanted everything to fit neatly into a box, a structure, a framework, a group, a category, a way of being, a philosophy, a school of thought. To be neatly analysed; the results presenting and proving something. Perhaps that said more about my own state of mind; my need to step out and soar up. It triggered me.
I paired it with an English major. And because I have a tendency to wrestle with the duality of underachiever / overachiever, I requested permission to do a third major: Classical Civilisation. This is where I encountered the first person I knew, that actively called themselves a feminist. She shared her passionate wisdom on women in antiquity. And while we were delving into the past, it felt more present and real than anything else I was learning. If I look back, my journey to the Divine Feminine was initiated in her classes. All the other teachers and much of my time was a blur.
Socially I was searching for my place and people. I found myself in a relationship that cut ties and broke bonds; separated and severed parts of me … and my family. My wings were clipped a little more.
I kept studying – and because I was tired of reading someone else’s words (that I couldn’t even read: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in old English!) – I enrolled in a Honours Degree in Media and Communication in Durban. I chose creative writing, advertising, journalism and philosophy of film. Searching for something just out of reach.
This caged bird needed to spread her wings. It was time to fly …
On 30 March 2002, I boarded a plane and moved to England knowing one person. A single suitcase, no job and a heart full of dreams. If you know me, you know I’m indecisive by nature. I see all sides; the spectrum; the bird’s eye view; the grey between the black and white. But there have been a few times in my life when a deep knowing has taken over. Boarding that plane (like marrying my husband) was one such occasion. I humbly recognise that in these times I’m not in my head, I am in my heart. A knowing on a soul level. No rationalising possible, just realisation. Both disconcerting (for the ego) and utterly divine! Oh to be able to bottle that …
Like the previous chapter, I acknowledge that there were many moments of magic during these years. And if I were to revisit my lecture halls, an entirely different version might pour from me. But I need to summarise it as such for now. Because the stories that want to come out of me are beyond this time and place. And the belief that everything has to be chronological is stifling my creative process. Yes, I’m still trying to climb out of those boxes and bend those rules!
So, this light touch on my tertiary time completes the trinity of my formal education. Foundation laid. Brief bio done. Context given.
Now it’s time to fly … to wherever the words want to go.