Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Rekindling an Old Flame
I have to admit that these days, I’m defining true friendship by how able my nearests and dearests are to excuse me of all the things good friends should do. This includes everything from regular emotional stock takes, showing up for those important events (birthdays, dream project launches, career milestones), liking them pages on Facebook, being available for impromptu coffees and giving 100% of my sparkling self when we see each other.
It’s because of a lot of things. God, it’ll be the most boring blog ever if I have to name them all so here’s a quick summary: Work, blah blah, more work, blah blah, no time to myself, yaddah yaddah, exhaustion, blah blah, I’m selfish, blah blah etc etc.
With all this just swimming around my head like a bunch of goldfish with absolutely no purpose, I give My Man that please-just-do-me-this-one-favour version 7.1 puppy face as we make our way to Gold Reef City to go on the Johannesburg sightseeing bus. For work. On a Sunday. On. FOOTBALL. Sunday. And because he is literally the kindest human being on the planet, he says yes and doesn’t even make me feel bad about it.
Huh. Fancy that.
We get on the bus, it’s hot and my enthusiasm is lacking. I live here dude, like forever. I know my city and this is supposed to be a day of rest isn’t it? Oh well, what’s a gal gonna do, I think, and put the headphones in as we pull off towards the CBD.
It’s a really clear day and as we come up onto the crest of a highway bypass, the city in its entirety is in plain sight. Unassuming, a little jambled in a kind of cut and pasted together aesthetic, grey but for some colourful splotches of commercialism - Jozi is just chillin’ on a Sunday. Just takin’ it easy.
I can’t help but smile, realizing that this beast of an African city somehow manages to stay the same even though you can’t walk a block twice without noticing something new that wasn’t there before. In so many ways it’s just like me – hard on the hustle, but quietly dependable in nature.
I can’t remember how many times My Man and I high fived but within the first 10 minutes of our tour, we were pretty chuffed to be Jo’burgers. Our city wasn’t even supposed to exist, yet it does. Our city always gets a bad rap, yet it’s accomplished so much despite so many challenges. Aw Joeys, you little gem you!
For us suburbians, Johannesburg CBD ain’t exactly where you wanna find yourself unless there’s some cool party happening, a new trendy bar has opened in one of the few face lifted districts or you’re safely caged in an office with a view during working hours. Yet as we pass City Hall, a bunch of teenagers scramble around a courtyard, filming their latest skateboarding tricks. Braamfontein is littered with these cutesy little markets ( *Rant Warning*I’m not talking about the larney Neighbourgoods market, that is not a market. That is where pretentious people go to feel ‘street’ and pay more than what they would at designer shops in Sandton City for a thrift shop sweater. Sorry Neighbourgoods, power to you - but the age of Ye Olde Flea Market is no longer. Let’s call a spade a spade) trendy coffee shops, and neat public art installations.
As always the inner city is a crazy mess. There’s this mad symbiosis going on between the concrete wonderland that is Johannesburg and the mixed masala of folk who weave in, out and around it. I don’t know why I find this so charming, but I do. Maybe it’s because anyone walking in this city is stripped of any preconceptions upon entering its chaotic ecosystem, maybe it’s because no matter where you go people are friendly and down-to-earth, maybe it’s because the flaws of anything just make it that much more unique and beautiful.
We hopped off the bus and, feeling all warm n fuzzy after our tour, instead of going straight home we stopped at another iconic Jozi spot, the good ol’ Bowls Club, for a pizza and beer. I knew I had mounds of work waiting for me at home. I knew that Monday would bring with it another truckload to worry about and plan for but just for that moment, it was the perfect afternoon with the coolest of boyfriends and my best mate, JHB.
I guess the beautiful thing about longstanding friends is that even if they are only a feature in the background for a time in your life, they get the paradoxical madness that makes you glisten like gold, even when it’s hard to see, buried under a dusty mine dump. They get that you have a few boarded up, broken down bits that you’re planning on fixing. They get that sometimes, you’re closed for renovation. They get that even though you can be pretty average on the surface, perhaps even grey with a few colourful splotches of commercialism, you’re a wonderful complicated mess underneath. And they like that mess because it gives you character and it makes you a more interesting human being.