When Jack first suggested a 2012 New Years do-over, I thought to myself what a fabulous idea. Wine. Old friends. Joburg at sunset. I’m in! I’d been dying to try out the trendy Sanbar at Sandton Sun Hotel for a while and couldn’t think of a better excuse than to have a do-over of a crappy beginning of year. I wasn’t alone in this theory as all my favourite people began spilling out onto the deck and ordering by the bottle as a glistening Jozi skyline smiled back at us almost urging us to control alt delete the contents of our 2012 folders.
On our 3rd slow dance with Merlot, Jack joined a group of us sitting around the fire.
Carly: “How u doing Jacky?”
Jack: “Not so good. Can’t wait to start this year over.”
Charlie: “Here here, break ups are shitty”
Mimi: “Well usually after I have a bad car accident something good happens to me. I’m hopeful. I guess.”
Nandi: “Please fill me up, I don’t wanna go home. Reggie and I are fighting. How’s Your Oke's job hunt going?”
Carly: “On 2nd thought, I guess another glass won’t hurt.”
As we sat around watching the yellow flames lick a black night sky I realized that we were all having to sit in some kind of fire of our own. Is it the end of the world? Are the Mayans right?! Break ups, brushes with death, relationship rehab, empty bank accounts, empty spaces where there used to be a bulging overflow of something that we can’t quite put our fingers on. An awkward very real and quiet moment of surrender hung in the air until someone cracked a joke on how pathetic we all were and everyone was suddenly relieved to be back on a socially acceptable level of self mockery and avoidance.
I said my goodbye and slipped away before enough people could ask me to stay another hour, another drink… just one more minute away from what was outside and everywhere. A hostile universe where absolutely nothing is predictable or constant. It’s hard to grabble with the idea that a large wedge of everything we do, see, want, need and have is out of our perfectly manicured hands. No matter how hard we clench at the air hoping to have a grasp on what the future will hold for us, we ultimately just end up with white knuckles.
Later that week I was en route to dinner with me Dad and we stopped off at a photographic exhibition at Circa in Rosebank. We were aiming on showing face and heading off to dinner at Full Stop Café down the road for an early bite. As we entered the beautiful venue the walls were decorated with photographs from all over the world. A road in the middle of no where, a hand holding open a hole in a fence, fish bones, rotting leaves and faces filled with history and hardship. It was all so beautiful.
Lost in a thicket of snapshots and images of life as we know it, I contemplated quietly in that messy place I call my head. This is it. Right here and right now. With all the crappiness, this is really it… and we’re missing it all. Somewhere amongst the debris of My Oke not finding a job, of my bond bending my mind with worry, of late shifts at work and guilt over not enough time on the couch or on the treadmill, of pending expectations from everyone around me… life was actually happening, with or without my participation. My hands softened for the first time in ages, 4 half moon nail marks in each palm.
I sunk into our couch on Sunday, heavy with the realization that I just couldn’t try to control or change it anymore. Before it could engulf me My Oke told me to get in the car, we were going to play pool. I would’ve said no but I was exhausted of saying no.
We walked in and I smiled quietly at the clicking and clucking of pool balls… it sort of reminded me of high heels walking down a corridor with conviction and purpose. It was ironic to hear that here in this chaotic place with sports blaring on the big screen and testosterone filling the air, murky around the green lit tables.
My Oke: “Do you wanna break?”
He meant take the first shot.
I meant everything else.
I picked up the stick and played a shot, then another, then another and before I knew it I had sunk 4 balls in a row. I must be having a super lucky night I thought as my ability to play pool is much like a fish’s ability to run the comrades. Round two, and again I had pretty much killed the table. Then it hit me, this was the first time I’d ever played a game where my “give a fuck” button had been partially switched off. I didn’t care what the outcome was, I was in the game… not on the scoreboard.
I guess that’s life’s practical joke on us. The second we surrender to the game, to NOT trying to have all our balls lined up just right. That’s when we succeed. Maybe the trick is not to live miles and miles ahead but to just peer at what’s coming up 10m at a time. To just relax our grip, wiggle our focus until it’s sort of aimed at where we want to be and then wing it. I watched the black ball reluctantly gaflunk into the net and with it went the pile of rubble I’d been carrying on my shoulders. I give up… That’s the money shot.