I was the spouse that moved after the other from Cape Town to Jozi. Moving is not easy – psychologists call it the third most traumatic event a person can experience, after death and divorce. I know this sounds dramatic, but it is. Helga, a lady in her seventies with red hair said to me: “I hate it. It doesn’t get easier. It’s an uprootment.” I love that word: uprootment.
You see, living in Cape Town for five years was a way to spread my adventitious root system and anchor deep and happily. I started nesting in my little flat with holes in the wall for paintings and pot plants, whose scientific names I knew, and that I would talk to. I had two best friends, the type you can phone up and say nonchalantly: “I was in the area, can I come for some tea?” I had my rituals and my habits and it was oh-so-comfortable.
Moving was a lesson in detachment. A very powerful lesson. I was struggling to come to a place of acceptance around the move, while trying to box everything up without my partner. I eventually called my mother-in-law, admitting I was struggling to pack up (because of the paralysing fear). She had to stand over me and say: “Why two Glad Wrap boxes?” Me: “Because I’m moving.” Her: “You only need one.” I started to learn how to think efficiently about my worldly goods. Do I use it, do I need it, can I donate it, can I chuck it? There is something therapeutic about culling.
Moving was a lesson around my idea of Self. My ideas of who I was and what I wanted really came to the fore. In a new place, I can be whoever I choose to be. A huge geographical shift in place can make you take a look at things with new eyes. It helped to re-establish what is important to me and what I am good at. Isn’t it funny how we sometimes lose sight of ourselves and we need a kick in the ass to remember who we are and what we have to offer?
Moving is a lesson in adaptation. I am really proud of myself because I have not died. I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. I may not be self-actualized yet but my basic needs are being met. The primitive brain that kicked in during the time of uprootment felt threatened, but the beauty is that our ancestors used to be like travelling gypsies. Never underestimate that inherent quality of being a nomad and setting up home somewhere else.
Moving is a lesson in ‘how to make friends’. Okay, to be honest, I have not mastered this one. It is still a work in progress. I have made only one friend, a person I can now cry in front of. I am a quality-over-quantity type of girl. In order to make friends, you have to be a child on the playground again. In other words, you have to go to places where you can meet others. If you see someone with a toy you like ,or who has crazy lumo scrunchies you smaak, say it and play with them. You aren’t going to make friends sitting at home scrolling through your social media.
But mostly, dear friends, change is good and there are lessons here. People would keep on telling me that, and only after my initial floundering around and finding my feet, can I say it is a truth. Some plants thrive when they have been forcefully removed and placed in a bigger pot. Soms kak hulle so bietjie af in die begin… Maar goeie hel! Hulle blom weer mooier en sterker in die komende lente.