I’ve lived in Cape Town for just about six months now -including all the travel- and I don’t know if it’s because I am tired of living out of my backpack in unfamiliar cities or if it is the undeniable charm of this city, but I am not ready to leave; to move on; to go somewhere else.
I am still awaiting news from Home Affairs about my visa and I can’t deny that it has added to my sense of impermanence, my transience. I have no furniture save my bed and I shall begin my (all too familiar) rituals of packing up my life this week. Just in case.
I would hate to not be able to return. For all her flaws and complexities and quirks, Cape Town has made me feel as though I ought to stay. As though I ought to try staying still for once, instead of careening through the universe; my axis on a tilt finding new places and new people. I feel, for the first time in recent memory, at home.
I’ve realised I don’t talk about Cape Town- or any of my travels- on my blog. Not in specifics, anyway. I could be writing this from anywhere and sometimes, I am and I do. But that’s unfair because Cape Town deserves to be more than just the background to my life, my emotions. She is too full of personality, too full of complexity, too full of humour to be relegated to an inter-changeable, unremarkable setting.
It makes me reassess how I’ve been approaching cities and countries up until now: perhaps I needed to want to be there specifically rather than just content to be in a space and a certain time and figure it out as things progressed. It’s the deliberate decisionmaking, the choice to be there; rather than a shrug of shoulders, ‘haven’t got anywhere else I want to be’ attitude that I’ve been working with for the majority of my life.
It’s a terrifying realisation whilst I’m grappling with the fact that I may not be able to stay after all.
It isn’t just that she is absolutely stunning, it is that I have felt a sense of belonging and community and comfort that I have not felt or experienced in a while. It’s because she’s alive with possibility. Her past, and her struggle with moving forward; straining against the many, many, many things that hold her back (more so, I think, than in any other city or space)- it is confusing, awkward, uncomfortable, breathtaking to witness.
I am learning to navigate the many intricate, complex spaces of Cape Tonian/South African society, but rather than feel daunted by it, I feel the openness of people allowing me to question, to try to grapple and grasp the pained history, the tense present, and to make sense of it all. It is a rare space to be in.
I have always thought that when one moves to a new country, it is important to understand where you’re going to live. Read about it- the histories, the cultures, the languages. Read local authors, listen to her music, eat the food, appreciate the art- make your experience as genuine as possible, it will make for heartfelt; authentic interactions.
The music, however, is what always gets me. I think the music- the soundtrack- to a city is what makes me fall in love with her. It isn’t necessarily what plays on the radio stations, what is blared out of open car windows, out of my neighbour’s speakers- it’s the beat of a city, the pulse that ticks, the melody that captures her vibrancy, her spirit, her cobbled roads, her little secrets. It is what hums and weaves and threads through the alcoves and alleys and lanes.
I have spent this Sunday morning, lying in bed and staring out of my window, listening to the Kyle Shepherd Trio and falling in love with Cape Town, over and over and over again. The music moves me in ways I never knew possible.
My favourite track off the South African History !X album is Langarm. It makes me feel as though possibility and chance are knocking on my front door, asking to be let in.
Have a listen, tell me what you think.