Between Two Summers

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”.

Shaw street

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

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.

Shaw cocktails

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.

Heather on Vespa

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.

Checkers Club

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.

Marvin Gaye mural

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.

TCB coffee

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.

TCB bar

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.

Mexican dinner

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.

DC clouds

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.

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53 Comments

  • Reply Roberto Cabral September 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Fantastic!!

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Thank you!

      • Reply Roberto Cabral September 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        😉

  • Reply Roberto Cabral September 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Fantastic!!

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Thank you!

      • Reply Roberto Cabral September 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        😉

  • Reply jeanie freeman September 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Heather,
    That was a little mean, just toying with your Mother. Yes, selfishly, I want you back so much. But the good news is you will hate FL and never be tempted to move here.
    Mom

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:59 am

      Sorry Mom! I didn’t realize people would take me so seriously.

  • Reply Ellen September 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    If you want a quirky place to live, I know a few. You’d love Boone, but it’s way too cold. Nice place to visit though! Welcome home for a while.

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Hopefully I can make it down to visit you sometime. In summer 🙂

  • Reply Ellen September 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    If you want a quirky place to live, I know a few. You’d love Boone, but it’s way too cold. Nice place to visit though! Welcome home for a while.

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Hopefully I can make it down to visit you sometime. In summer 🙂

  • Reply thirdeyemom September 21, 2013 at 1:52 am

    I think this is one of my favorites. Great post!

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Aw, thanks Nicole!

  • Reply thirdeyemom September 21, 2013 at 1:52 am

    I think this is one of my favorites. Great post!

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Aw, thanks Nicole!

  • Reply Tim September 21, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Noooooo!

    Come home! We need you! We miss you!

    • Reply 2summers September 22, 2013 at 1:50 am

      Sorry, didn’t mean to scare everyone. But this is how I was feeling yesterday! Don;t worry though, I promise to come back.

  • Reply Tim September 21, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Noooooo!

    Come home! We need you! We miss you!

    • Reply 2summers September 22, 2013 at 1:50 am

      Sorry, didn’t mean to scare everyone. But this is how I was feeling yesterday! Don;t worry though, I promise to come back.

  • Reply Yashik September 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I almost had a panic attack reading this!

    Yes, dc isn’t Jozies. And we’d miss you terribly.

  • Reply Yashik September 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I almost had a panic attack reading this!

    Yes, dc isn’t Jozies. And we’d miss you terribly.

  • Reply chuckv88 September 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    It would be a sad day for Joburg.

    • Reply 2summers September 22, 2013 at 1:51 am

      Don’t worry Chuck, I’m not leaving you any time soon. Just had a moment of uncertainty.

  • Reply Becky Hartman September 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    It’s OK to have your heart in two places.
    That’s why God invented airplanes.

  • Reply Becky Hartman September 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    It’s OK to have your heart in two places.
    That’s why God invented airplanes.

  • Reply Brando September 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I’m a born and raised joburger. I hate this city. It’s not worth the risk and trouble to live here. DC sounds wonderful. I’d be happy to move there solely because of the way you described it. I can’t wait to land a job in a city like DC.

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Haha. I appreciate your honesty. I of course disagree with you about Joburg though. Despite my momentary uncertainty, I still think Jozi is a great place to live!

  • Reply Brando September 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I’m a born and raised joburger. I hate this city. It’s not worth the risk and trouble to live here. DC sounds wonderful. I’d be happy to move there solely because of the way you described it. I can’t wait to land a job in a city like DC.

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Haha. I appreciate your honesty. I of course disagree with you about Joburg though. Despite my momentary uncertainty, I still think Jozi is a great place to live!

  • Reply amelie88 September 22, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I thought you were going to announce you were moving back to DC too! I’d still follow your blog though if you did. I’m sure you’d find interesting and kooky places in DC just like you always do in Johannesburg. DC is not a city I am that fond of, and I would probably never move there myself but you made me like it (temporarily) just with these pictures!

  • Reply amelie88 September 22, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I thought you were going to announce you were moving back to DC too! I’d still follow your blog though if you did. I’m sure you’d find interesting and kooky places in DC just like you always do in Johannesburg. DC is not a city I am that fond of, and I would probably never move there myself but you made me like it (temporarily) just with these pictures!

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      DC is like most other cities in my experience. It had its good points and bad points and your enjoyment of it really depends on where you are and what you’re doing. DC and Joburg are especially like this, actually. Let me know if you ever make it back to DC – I might be able to give you some tips that will change your mind 🙂

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish September 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I know you could make a great blog out of D.C., because the blog is not really about Joburg, it’s about you — in Joburg or wherever. I’d bet you could come to my funky little desert town and in one day find things that I’ve never noticed — and make them interesting.

    I love D.C. too, but I stumbled a bit when you spoke of walking alone at night. Okay, it’s not the third world, but it’s a Big City! I’ve walked alone through several that made my friends blanch, such as Mexico City. But I can’t say I wasn’t aware every minute that I needed to be aware every minute.

    Wherever you are, I’m looking forward to what you find there.

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      It’s true that DC can also be a dangerous place for crime. That might have been a careless statement. But there are many places in DC where I feel very comfortable walking alone at night, and that is not the case in Joburg. But it’s true that you need to be careful everywhere.

      Anyway, thanks so much for the lovely comment 🙂

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish September 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I know you could make a great blog out of D.C., because the blog is not really about Joburg, it’s about you — in Joburg or wherever. I’d bet you could come to my funky little desert town and in one day find things that I’ve never noticed — and make them interesting.

    I love D.C. too, but I stumbled a bit when you spoke of walking alone at night. Okay, it’s not the third world, but it’s a Big City! I’ve walked alone through several that made my friends blanch, such as Mexico City. But I can’t say I wasn’t aware every minute that I needed to be aware every minute.

    Wherever you are, I’m looking forward to what you find there.

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      It’s true that DC can also be a dangerous place for crime. That might have been a careless statement. But there are many places in DC where I feel very comfortable walking alone at night, and that is not the case in Joburg. But it’s true that you need to be careful everywhere.

      Anyway, thanks so much for the lovely comment 🙂

  • Reply taxslave September 22, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I lived in SA but am from Ireland – I visited USA and i LOVED it – would move there in a falsh – don’t overthink this decsion (I entered a long comment – it was deleted as once again I forgot my password – now I remember why I don’t comment)

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Haha, I know, commenting can be a real pain. Thanks anyway for making a second attempt.

  • Reply taxslave September 22, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I lived in SA but am from Ireland – I visited USA and i LOVED it – would move there in a falsh – don’t overthink this decsion (I entered a long comment – it was deleted as once again I forgot my password – now I remember why I don’t comment)

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Haha, I know, commenting can be a real pain. Thanks anyway for making a second attempt.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough September 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Fascinating to hear you ruminate about a move. One thing’s for sure–bringing your Joburg cat back to DC would be easy. As long as he’s had his shots, he’s good to go. And the new blog name would be interesting, as well.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough September 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Fascinating to hear you ruminate about a move. One thing’s for sure–bringing your Joburg cat back to DC would be easy. As long as he’s had his shots, he’s good to go. And the new blog name would be interesting, as well.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  • Reply Fiver October 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Phew. You had me worried for a moment. Don’t know what I’d do if I arrived in Jozi and you were not there to welcome us.

    • Reply 2summers October 2, 2013 at 2:19 am

      Don’t worry, I’ll be here. I’ll get over this eventually, as I always do 🙂

  • Reply Fiver October 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Phew. You had me worried for a moment. Don’t know what I’d do if I arrived in Jozi and you were not there to welcome us.

    • Reply 2summers October 2, 2013 at 2:19 am

      Don’t worry, I’ll be here. I’ll get over this eventually, as I always do 🙂

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