I was reminded by a dear friend, this week, to dream. Odd that the one thing that used to come so naturally to me has now fallen on a spiritual to-do list like, picking up milk, or doing taxes. I found our old house on Google Maps today. I zoomed in and in until I could recognize my childhood memories in-between the pixels on a flat screen monitor. Something that didn’t exist when I used to live there and we used to listen to vinyls on a contraption which was large enough to count as serious furniture. I remember how my brother taught me to ride a bike on our lawn one night at dusk, how afraid I was of falling off and the excitement of the bicycle going faster as it went down hill… how I used to sell stones and little brown medicine bottles (our middle brother was sick often) to my mom as she passed me with baskets-full of laundry. How sad I was the day I saw the new family’s furniture fill the rooms of what I then knew as my entire life. Like watching a sitcom, I remembered thinking, their furniture looked like those of families that were on TV. The house immediately smelled different. We left the wooden passages behind. The piano that used to stand in our entry hall was sold, and all the memories of being a little girl faded as we got in the car and left for our new life. We moved far away to Cape Town and I was going to go to a new school called Mikro. I liked the idea of a school named after Mickey Mouse (Mikro is, in fact, named after a South African author). That was 1989. I was six years old. The rest of my life played off in the house my father still lives in in one of the Northern Suburbs of the Mother City. I shared these years with my half Romanian best friend all the way to her wedding last year. Driving to the shop tonight, I drove through the streets I used to walk through as a dreamy teenager. I was the kind of outrageous girl that people pointed out for being oddly unique, and I never really seemed to fit any of the available molds of the social circles available to me. I was too weird for the good crowd and too good for the cool crowd. Despite this teenage limbo, I knew and understood fully, what it meant to dream and what it meant to hope.
I remember who I was when I used to wear my Christian band T-shirts and rave platforms to battle of the bands to go and listen to Purple Sticky Punch. I used to tape and dance to Plumb’s Late Great Planet Earth, 7th Breed, Johnny Q. Public and I worked the graveyard shift making coffee at an independent radio station in Bellville when I was barely sixteen, doing the Christian Music Industry News. I got the job, because I phoned in so many times that the DJ’s already knew me by name. By age 17 I was organizing poetry programmes to raise money for a church in Egypt, in-between taking pictures for the school newspaper and confidence boosting portraits for friends. The world, to me, was a pearl infested oyster…and I couldn’t wait to go diving. IF we had year-books in South Africa, my quote would have said, “The impossible is conquest.” What happened to that girl? The one who pulled an all-nighter in an old abandoned disco with the intelligent lights twisting and turning to no music. The one who got up in front of the whole school to talk about what she believed in. I still remember her. Now my conversations are limited to complaining about work, complaining about exes, complaining about insurmountable issues from this and that and here and there… Sad that I accomplished more in the first unempowered 18 years of my life than the last empowered ten.
Here I am, accomplishing only myself and sometimes rent. My greatest excitement this month was going to the opera. When asked, I couldn’t even conjure up a clever or creative suggestion of a dream. In fact, I don’t even think I can remember how to formulate that kind of a sentence. At least not one that is grammatically correct.