Johannesburg and Green Smoothies
Sleep evades me at around 5am so I send off a few emails for work and head to the hotel gym. I cycle 20km and complete a weights workout and yoga flow. The sweat helps dissipate any whiskey haze from the previous eve. I return an hour later to the family suite to my family sharing videos of my escapades. My mother is not happy with my behaviour so I sleuth off to shower and prepare for the day.
At 7am Cici and I are ready for breakfast. I chug lemon water and devour a bowl of fruit. The rest of the family arrives, grandpa says he slept so well and enjoyed a long hot shower. Again he looks great in his shirt and merino. Cici and I excuse ourselves to return to WiFi in the room and run through the route. We are visiting the cemetery where a few family members rest and then we’re heading out of town to stay with cousins for a few days.
We pack up the car and check out. On the way to the cemetery taxis try to dart between cars but are antagonised into having to drive really slow. I hang back and as per the security briefing crack the windows half an inch to deflect a break in the event of an attack.
At the cemetery we find my late grandmother and late uncle. I remain in the vehicle with the engine running. We then head across the very last cemetery to see my Bobba, my great grandmother. She died when I was a toddler and as she breathed her last breath in the hospital the staff took me to a room next to hers to chat to elderly ladies while my mother sat with Bobba. Whether it is just her memory, or something we cannot explain, I felt her with me and I get that a lot. Strangely I think of her as a bird of prey and when I’m feeling her vibes often I will see an eagle, red kite or buzzard soar and make eye contact. There are many explanations for this coincidence. I look around in the sky as I idle beside her grave, sure enough there’s a high soaring silhouette. “Hey Bobba” I smile.
We leave West Park Cemetery, pass a food hall where we pick up some goodies for our hosts and a litre of green smoothie. We all excited, on tender hooks to see them.
To enter their estate I arrive at high security bollards, present them with a passcode received earlier that morning. They scan my registration, licence, the tag of the hire vehicle and in we enter. The location is unbelievable, there is a restaurant and sports facilities on site, speed restrictions and open play areas for children. The houses are all mansions and sprawling with fantastic cars parked outside. There are few gates or walls around the properties and the perimeter fencing is akin to that of a maximum security outfit.
We pull into my cousins drive and leap out to hug this tall handsome man. I am so thrilled! We meet his husband, another tall gorgeous human and I throw my arms around them all, so happy to see them. They have two beautiful fur babies, or kids as we all call them, a Schnauzer called Bos and a Scottish terrier called Katie. Their home is curated, it’s thought out, everything is intentional and brings value to life. I am so inspired and can’t wait to get the construction completed on my house and start this process. Their choice of art is inspirational, I find myself wandering the rooms drinking in the paintings and etchings. In each piece there is something that challenges your thoughts, it’s far from conventional, it’s a nod to suffering. There’s a consistent thread between many of the pieces, growth out of pain. It doesn’t feel like a fairytale message, more the message of life, it’s imperfect. I wonder who out of the pair primarily picks the pieces and would love to find out more.
Soon my cousins sister and her wife arrive, again they are beautiful beings and confident and wonderful to talk to. I could spend all night talking to them, finding out about their lives, I am fascinated and feel such love for everyone.
Then my youngest cousin arrives with my aunt, both of whom will be a huge part of our family forever. I can’t believe this little guy, he’s as tall as all the men, around 6”3 and he is stunning. We cover our mouths in gasps as he stands beside another cousin a generation up. They could be brothers, it’s uncanny. My grandfathers cousin arrives and it’s always great to see him, a biker and rocker who now spends half his time in the U.K. and a gorgeous coastal spot in Durban. My mother’s cousin arrives, after so long it’s great to finally meet her and her three utterly beautiful children. With jabbering enthusiasm we all chat to one another.
The long table is set beautifully in the covered outdoor veranda. I’m in awe looking around, wine and cocktails and beers in hand, food cooking, delicious salads laid out. We plate up and take seats, there are about twenty of us in total. In that moment it feels like a snapshot from an Italian scene, all together around a table in the sunshine sharing delicious food and anecdotes. I catch my grandfather at the end of the table watching, he’s smiling. A moment of realisation flows over me, together we will be connected by this memory. Like the thread through the artwork, a thread which connects us all.
I chat to my cousin Christian and his wonderful Partner. They are relocating to Germany in the next few months. I feel for them, many of our family have plans to return to Europe, like our Ancestors fleeing religious prosecution and finding a home here. Yet a part of me is elated to be so close to them, weekends in Germany and European jaunts, just in the few hours it feels as though we share so many values. Our outlooks on life. Later that night I meditate on my feelings about nurture versus nature.
After endless laughter and chatting the group dissipates and it’s time for many to return home.
Johan our host invites us to join him for a dog walk. The footpaths around the estate are winding and we pass stunning properties. I feel safe in the city. He is a gorgeous being, and fascinating to talk to. We arrive back at the house, bid goodnight to our hosts, they are staying around the corner at their sisters house and have freed this beautiful home for the five of us. I’m teary eyed grateful and so proud to call them family.
The room is beautiful and after a mug of valerian tea I curl up in bed with Katie and Bos. Sleep comes easy, and Katie stays curled up beside me all night, Bos ditches me for a spot next to my father in the other side of the house.