Leaving on a Jet Plane


The house is sold, the move complete and now it’s up to us to unpack and start this new chapter in our lives. Taking my leave of our Durban house last week really was a bitter- sweet and emotionally exhausting experience. I continually lurched from feeling excited to desperately sad. It’s so very sobering to see a great chunk of one’s life reduced to a few cardboard boxes. And when you take stuff that you have accumulated over the years from its usual resting place and put it in the spotlight, it suddenly looks rather shabby. And superfluous. I felt like a snake sloughing off its old skin and it was quite liberating to shed a lot of those things that we have cluttered up our lives with: five trips to the dump; books and magazines donated to the library of an old age home; 4 boxes of books, linen, crockery, kitchenware and clothing given away to Kho and Theodora; a truckload of stuff for Philamon, our squinty-eyed painter; and I finally found someone to give my dad’s bowling balls to.

Theodora, omigod I’m going to miss you so much


farewell old friend

On the downside, I decided that I needed to pay my respects to the old house. After a long hard day of packing and copious amounts of wine I decided to thank it for keeping us safe for 25 years, and for providing a space for our family to have a home. As I walked through the rooms, I spoke to all the old ghosts that I saw there. I saw myself sitting on Alex’s bed while we listened to music on iTunes together, “Hey Mom, do you know this one?”  I saw Kiera playing with the doll’s house in Edna’s bedroom, my dad sitting in his sunny spot on the front veranda and my mum cutting his hair. I saw Judy sitting at the computer in the downstairs office, which used to be Kiera’s bedroom a long time ago. While I was packing up the office I uncovered Kiera’s secret hidey-hole behind the mirror, which I had completely forgotten about. Tucked behind her very dusty fairy and snow ornaments, I found a letter written by her aged 13 to “god, the fairy or the angel” (hedging her bets) asking for some divine intervention to prevent her from losing her BFF Louise to New Zealand. I’m afraid that was followed by a short wobbly on my part, and then I carried on with my farewells. Goodbyes had already been said to Kiera’s room when she left home for China but I could still see her perched on her chair, hard at work in front of her computer. And then it dawned on me. I wasn’t saying goodbye to the house, I was saying goodbye to the childhood of my children and a final goodbye to my life as a mother of young children.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited about our future on the farm. I’m not looking back, I am looking forward, to being free to travel more, to live life on my own terms, to see my children living their dreams, and (I can’t help it) to being a granny. La vita è bella. But I can’t help but feel sad to acknowledge the end of an era in my life. As Peter said to me, packing up the house felt like saying goodbye to an old friend.

Which brings me to the other end, unpacking. Untidiness makes me feel unsettled. I like things to be where they belong and when I am surrounded by clutter, I start getting disgruntled. Our house on the farm is a shambles as we have attempted to move lock, stock and barrel from Durban and fit everything in here. Try as I may, it is just not working. Boxes of books, DVDs, children’s toys (for future grand children, no pressure!) and all Peter’s office files are stacked up in the garage, while displaced stuff is crammed onto the veranda. It all looks like a rather forlorn second hand furniture shop.

We have, thank goodness, managed to furnish Kho’s cabin rather splendidly and he hasn’t stopped smiling since he moved into his new abode. And I have a bakkie load of stuff to take to Njabulo and James. But it’s the personal things that I just can’t get rid of, and I don’t have enough storage for them.

As a nice rounding off touch I hired Mr Evans’ furniture removals to move our stuff. He moved us to Morningside Road all those years ago and moved some of our furniture to the farm 10 years ago – not that he could remember mind you, but I could. They arrived on the Wednesday to load up but were only going to deliver to the farm on the Thursday, so Peter and I were going to drive up to the farm once they left and be here all bright-eyed and bushy- tailed when they arrived the next morning. However, we had to wait for Philamon and his mate with the bakkie to arrive and that was quite late, so we decided at the last minute to check into the Benjamin Hotel for the night and leave early the next day. At breakfast, the hotel manageress came over to chat to us and mentioned that she had been in the Midlands recently and seen three different kinds of Kingfishers. I was green with envy never having seen a Kingfisher here. A couple of mornings later as I pulled up the blinds in our lounge I spotted a beautiful, pigeon – toed Kingfisher picking off the froggies in my pond. What a beauty! Any doubts I might have had about moving up here all disappeared with that sight. I do love it here. And then there was the rainbow to boot.

malachite kingfisher

Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely.


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4 Responses to Leaving on a Jet Plane

  1. Chris A says:

    It’s tough moving and it always seems to stir up memories. And there’s a difference between materialist acquisitiveness and keeping things (that may be of little monetary value) simply because they are your history and go towards defining who you are and how you got there. My prize possessions are things like that. Letters, photos, a wooden box of my grandfather’s, a watch of my father’s. I lost my grandad’s old fob watch years ago and was heartbroken. Then I found a recipe for saffron pasta and dug out my pasta maker from the kitchen. Inside the box was the watch in a leather case that Pam had had made for me. We worked out it must have been there for about 6 years and I probably put it there for safety one holiday. So who knows what you might find when you unpack! The watch still works and the saffron pasta was excellent by the way. I hope you settle in soon.

    • Cathy says:

      My next mammoth project, after I’ve unpacked, is to sort through all the things that I’ve just chucked into boxes because I can’t bear to part with them for sentimental reasons, and then find a more organised way to store or display them. And I really need to get my photos sorted; I spend hours looking for them when I do my blog if they are pre – digital. I loved the story about your grandad’s watch. I’m forever putting things in “safe” places and then losing them. I turned the house further upside down last night looking for a slab of Lindt chocolate. I found it this morning in the bathroom, never thought to look there!

  2. Adam Rice says:

    I looked at Morningside Road on Google Streetview; it used to be in my locality as I lived in Oxford Road nearby and my Mum & Jo lived in Rapson Road. It raised no sense of belonging, or even familiarity I am afraid to say. This may be because all the houses look so different behind big walls and many of the street names have changed, but it seems to me that the houses and roads I was so familiar with can’t be what I particularly remember about my Durban days. I have very fond memories of Durban, I did most of my growing up there, but my memories are principally connected with all the things I did and the people I did them with. The backdrop against which they happened has largely faded away.
    Having moved many times we have got used to getting rid of stuff, when we had the 2nd house we owned here altered, we put most of our stuff in storage and just used the bare essentials in the flat we rented. After 8 very comfortable months we moved in and realised that around three quarters of what we owned we really didn’t need at all!
    All the best in your new permanent house!

    • Cathy says:

      Quite frankly, I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to rid of stuff that we no longer need or like and whittle it all down to the basics. Blending two completely different styles of furnishings has been interesting. What we have ended up with is a hotchpotch of furniture, crockery, linen and ornaments, which is fine because I think it looks very “country” (not sure that an interior decorator would agree but who cares, I’m going for my own style)!

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