The title of this post was a shameless ploy to get people to click on it in a panic, thinking that I’m leaving Joburg forever and moving back to America. Gotcha!
I’m boarding a plane tomorrow and flying to America for a three-week visit.
(I used to call it the United States. But as with many other words and pronunciations, after three years of living here I’ve converted to the South African way of referring to my home country. “America” is shorter and easier to say than “the United States”.)
This trip is momentous for many reasons, first because I haven’t been “home” in more than two years. It’s been two years since I’ve driven on the right side of the road. It’s been two years since I’ve watched Matt Lauer in the morning. (Is Matt Lauer still the host of the Today Show? I don’t even know.) It’s been two years since I’ve eaten legitimate Mexican food. (This dire situation will be remedied immediately upon my return.) It’s been two years since I’ve seen my mother.
After Jon died in December 2011, people were always asking if/when I was moving back to America. But not only did I not consider moving back, I didn’t even go for a visit. I suppose this might seem strange. Really though, the fact that I’ve waited so long to go back is no accident.
I’ve been through so much tumultuous change over the last two years that I could barely remember to breathe at times, let alone plan a trip across the world. So that’s one thing. But it was more than that.
In hindsight, I suffered from a kind of agoraphobia after Jon’s death. I never stopped exploring Joburg and I’ve done a lot of traveling around South Africa and Southern Africa in the last two years. But the idea of really leaving — of crossing the ocean and being away for more than a few days — terrified me. It still does, at least a little bit. But I’m ready to face that fear now. I think.
I’m looking forward to seeing (and photographing) my two home towns — Baltimore and Washington — with fresh eyes. I’m looking forward to spending time with my friends and family and visiting parts of the States that I haven’t been to before. I’m really, really looking forward to watching football.
But I’m also nervous. I’m nervous about sudden exposure to round-the-clock, in-your-face, consume-consume-consume American culture. (I recently watched Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs and wondered if I’m ready to subject myself to that kind of circus for three straight weeks. I’ll try to stay away from MTV, as well as CNN and Fox News.) I’m nervous about how my family will react to me, and how I’ll react to them, after such a long time and so much change. I’m nervous about the way America will make me feel about myself. I’m not the person I was when I last left there.
Also, this will be the longest I’ve ever been away from Joburg since moving here three years ago. I’m going to be homesick.
I’ll miss walking around Joburg and seeing scenes like this.
I’ll miss Nells and Ree and the rest of my Instagram friends. And all of my other amazing friends, too.
Most of all, I’ll miss the Melville Cat. This animal has gotten me through some very difficult times over the last two years. I’ve arranged for him to have a companion while I’m away, but I’m still apprehensive about leaving him for so long. The Melville Cat always does what he wants, and if he gets angry and decides to move elsewhere during my long absence there will be nothing I can do about it. Anyway, I’m doing my best to let go of my codependent feelings about the Melville Cat.
I think he suspects that something is amiss.
Okay, enough self-reflection. Despite my angst, I think this trip will be great and it’s going to provide me with excellent blogging content. So don’t go away. Even if you’re not interested in my American experiences, I’ll be back in Joburg before you know it.
See you soon, Jozi. I’ll miss you.