It was with more than a little trepidation that I opened the door to Office Johannesburg for the last time that Friday morning. Everything looked the same, only it felt completely different. I was the first person in the office and I hastily cleared my desk. There was not much to be done and an empty gym bag held what was left of my professional possessions.
Thankfully, M-lite walks in and we can get the ball rolling on the plan for the day. That is: once she gets herself rolling. I sit and wait for her to perform her ablutionary excursion, complete with loitering greetings to the help staff. I sit and wait with a kind of rueful familiarity - this was the last time I'd wait for her before an outing and I reminisce on the waiting that had so characterised (at least a part of) our relationship. The night before this morning M-lite, her beau, Sophia and myself had enjoyed a few late night drinks in my 'honour'... i suppose. I will say with no shame that if nothing else I danced my way out of Joburg, and I am grateful I got to party with everyone before I left.
When M-lite and I return. I find a book and a tiny card on my desk, a most thoughtful gift from Certain Someone and immediately stalk about the building to find her. She's sitting at her desk and taps away lightly at her keyboard.
"Thanks for the gift, that's really great of you."
"Well we both love books and we both really wanted to see the movie so it seemed like the perfect gift."
"It was, really, thanks."
We hug and I take it all in for the last time. The girl I was crazy about. The gift she's given me was so thoughtful - if I take nothing else away from my experience with her over the year past, at least I did "crush the best one of the best ones" - and that will always be my song for her.
I have to move on to the day's procedure though so I return to floor and I have my last post-mortem. I'm not really listening, everything discussed here would all be academic to me in a few short hours.
"Anyone want to add anything?" Deputy asks as the conversation winds down.
I clear my throat, suddenly awkward. "I don't have anything to add but if we're wrapping up I'd like to, um... we'd like to.. do something else."
"Floor's yours," Deputy shrugs.
"Thank you." I move to front and center and deliver a thank you to our internship co-ordinator, Chief, on behalf of the interns. I'm a closet orator and spoke for a tight 7 minutes, it was my own way of saying goodbye without saying goodbye. We eat cake after and i say my more personal goodbyes.
After shakes with my fellow interns at the cafe I decide it's time to walk away, goodbyes can drag and I'm frankly terrible at them. Sugar is also on her way out and offers to walk with me to the parking lot. Sugar had been my best friend in the work environment and there was nothing I hadn't/couldn't tell her and vice versa.
"How are you feeling?" she asks in that way which means I can't just reply by saying 'i'm cool'
"I feel... like I might carry a few regrets but that I can live with them."
"I know what you mean. But you're going to be better off."
"I know, I wouldn't go if I didn't think that was the case. I'm just gonna miss..." I struggle for the words, "this chapter."
She looks at me quizically.
"You know, like if my life were a book, I'd miss this chapter
"But there's so much more to come."
"Uh huh," I feel this goodbye is beginning to go down that emotional road and so I steer it clear. "Okay I must go now, I'll be in touch. Try not to miss me too much."
"Or laugh at me too much." I tease.
"Okay my friend."
On the Road
The next morning I picked up parental unit XY at the airport and we begin the long trek South. Johannesburg shows me what she's made of one last time by getting me hopelessly lost on the way out. I wonder briefly at the irony of all that as we finally see the right signs. Parental Unit XY catches me up on everything that's happening at home with the extended family and we comment sporadically on the remarks on the radio. PUXY and I have always gotten on very well and I don't think I'd be an even remotely well adjusted person had he not understood me the way he has over the years. No trip with him would be complete without the Beatles and we sing along to our favourites which makes the experience all the more enjoyable... and hard on the throat.
We stop at Colesberg, the middle of everything in the country, I feel. It's cold and empty. By the time we get there the streets had been rolled up and there was nothing else to do except go sleep. We ate at a fast food outlet which had surprisingly great imitation KFC and watched a Bond film (another firm favourite for myself and PUXY). As I lay in bed, early on a Friday night I thought about where I was. The middle. Halfway between where I was and where I was headed. 100% sure about my past and 100% unsure of my future. Scared and excited, I am two-face Dent.
We set out early the next day, at 4am to be precise. PUXY comes to my room and asks if I'm still asleep. I'd barely splept during the night so I answer in the affirmative and we head off earlier than expected. The stars are still out over the Great Karoo as we ride the barren road. So many stars... the clear dust of the milky way was visible in the night sky and we bothdistinctly noticed one shooting star cross the plain.
"Make a wish." PUXY asserts.
I think about the fact that I was only a few minutes away from the middle of everything and sigh, not knowing what I want.
"I wish for a safe journey." I say.
"You not supposed to tell me."
"Well then I guess we're doomed." I joke.
We encounter horrible weather in the mountains of the Western Cape. The torrent does however make for gorgeous waterfall viewing on along the ridges and we savour the slow ride.
The cloud cleared as we hit the home stretch, Cape Town and the mountain, my mountain, stretches horizontally across the horizon, embracing the city, welcoming me back into her arms. It started to feel right just then and the tamult of leaving was gone. I am home now and I'm with my people - I'm off to meet them now, I can't wait for you to meet all of them as well. If my blog is called On the Road thanks to Jack Kerouc, the Cape Town crowd are the crazy ones which I'd take over anyone else any day. Here I go...