It’s interesting that I chose this particular time to return to America. Summer is drawing to an end here, while it’s just heating up back in Joburg. It’s around the same time of year that I moved to Joburg in the first place, which is how my blog got its name.
I woke up this morning — back in Washington D.C., crashing on Bob’s and Tim’s air mattress — feeling not only between seasons, but also between continents and lives. For the first time since my trip began, I had no particular plans. I kept today open on purpose, thinking I might need a break from the errands and family time and socializing. But the gap in my schedule made me anxious and depressed.
I pulled on workout clothes and went for a run. After two years of running at 6000 feet, running at sea level feels amazing. I ran twice around Meridian Hill Park, the prettiest park in D.C. On my way back I noticed all the interesting shops and restaurants, the trees and the orderly pedestrian crosswalks. The strip of Ethiopian restaurants on 9th Street, with laconic men lazing on the front steps, reminded me of Africa. I felt better.
A thought entered my head.
“Maybe I should move back.”
Tears sprung to my eyes. I wasn’t expecting that thought. But once it came I couldn’t push it away.
Why, indeed, shouldn’t I move back to D.C.? It’s a beautiful, cultural, dynamic city. I could have a great life here.
I would live in Shaw, where Bob and Tim live. It’s historic and edgy. Not Joburg-edgy, but edgy enough to prevent boredom. Maybe.
I would live in a 100-year-old rowhouse and fill my apartment with a combination of Ikea furniture and African crafts, like all the other 30-something single women who move back to D.C. after roughing it for a few years in the “developing world”.
I would live on a street like this.
I would get a “real” job, possibly incorporating my new-found blogging and photography skills. With my “real” salary, I would be able to afford to have dinner in interesting restaurants — my neighborhood would be filled with them — and to drink cocktails in grungy yet fashionable bars.
Table, one of the hottest new restaurants in Shaw. I had dinner there the other night and it was delicious, albeit breathtakingly expensive compared to restaurants in Joburg.
Cocktails, served in Mason jars, from a local bar called A&D. The drink on the left is called a Shaw Sling and the one of the right is called The Sun Also Rises.
I would get around on foot (God, I love walking in cities) and by bus and metro. Maybe I would buy a scooter.
Me on Bob’s Vespa. (Photo: Bob Yule)
I would rename my blog 2Winters, as I’d have two consecutive winters if I moved back to D.C. now. I might have to look a bit harder, but I could find plenty of interesting things to blog about.
Capital Checkers in Shaw — a club where old men get together and play checkers. This is a 2Winters blog post waiting to be written. I might actually go there tonight.
A graffiti mural in Shaw depicting legendary singer Marvin Gaye, by local artist Aniekan Udofia. Aniekan painted this work as part of a citywide mural project sponsored by Heineken — I actually chatted to him while he was finishing the mural last week. Another perfect 2Winters blog post.
I would immerse myself into D.C.’s vibrant coffee culture and avoid Starbucks like the plague.
Breakfast at The Coffee Bar (TCB) in Shaw. I love this place — I think it’s slightly cooler than Father Coffee. And unlike at Starbucks, the people at TCB spelled my name right and put my coffee into a real cup.
I would fit in well at TCB.
Living in Washington D.C. would make my life easier in so many ways. I wouldn’t have to worry about residency permits and expat bank accounts and traffic registers. I could walk alone at night without feeling scared. I could survive without a car.
I would have easy access to well-fitting jeans and undergarments. I would be closer to my family. I would go to all the Baltimore Ravens games. I would eat Mexican food whenever I wanted.
Tacos from El Centro on 14th Street. I ate there on my first night back in America.
Now that I’m back in America, it has also occurred to me that even after three years of living in South Africa, I have very few things tying me there. No full-time job, no family, no mortgage. No husband. No boyfriend. Almost no possessions.
And, look. There are nice clouds in Washington D.C. too.
The more I think about it, the less sense it makes that I live in Joburg and not D.C.
I suppose this is one of the reasons why I didn’t come back to visit America for so long. I knew I would have to ask myself this question eventually and I was afraid of what the answer would be.
So. I ask myself again: Why not move back to D.C.?
Besides the obvious things, like my Joburg friends and my Joburg cat, I can only think of two good reasons:
1) The weather is way better in Joburg than it is in D.C.
2) D.C. isn’t Joburg.
I guess I’m not moving just yet.