22 September, 2016

The best mojitos are made in Skopelos

Ever since watching Alexis Bledel as Lena in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants  fall into the (what I was sure could only be photo-shopped) blue water of a small island harbour surrounded by boxy white stone houses, and be rescued by a shirtless Greek man who takes her driving on a motorcycle and dancing in a little Greek Taverna  – I’ve dreamed of going to Greece.
I hate admitting such shallow reasons for wanting to visit the cradle of Western Civilisation, birthplace of the Olympics and a country that, though still recovering from the global financial crisis of the late 2000s, is currently doing what it can to help with one of the worst refugee crises in recent history. But I won’t lie. An American teenage coming-of-age movie was the origin of my inspiration. However,  my reasons for admiring and feeling curious about the country have matured over the years; Greece is the exotic, beautiful, friendly and ancient family matriarch with a lifetime of stories and a good sense of humour, that I’ve always wanted to meet.

This year that meeting finally took place.  

In choosing which of the 1400 Greek islands to visit, our criteria included small, good beaches, easy to get to, and less touristy than others. We settled on Skopelos, which happens to be where Mamma Mia was filmed – a fact that had no bearing whatsoever on our choice to visit.  An easy 3 hour flight from Manchester got us to Skiathos island, which has the smallest runway I have ever flown onto. It saddles one end of the island, connecting the sea on each side in a small arc of tarmac. Slightly terrifying.

We stayed one night in Skiathos, walking down to the docks in the evening to watch the swaths of hip tourists mix with fashionable young locals in the harbour night-life. The next morning a ferry took us to Skopelos in less than an hour and while we did have to wait longer than that for a bus into town, the sun and relaxed island vibe made the wait more pleasant than it would be in a gloomy England bus terminal.

The bus arrived more-or-less on time and got us from Glossa port to our Airbnb maisonette in the little town of Neo Klima. Our hosts were Vasoula and Babis, staying in the apartment next to ours, she a retired anaesthetist and master-decorator, he an architect whose smile shone through his eyes and who had built the sixteen apartments in the complex where we stayed. This couple made our stay in Greece a unique, rich experience. We felt like distant cousins, welcomed with ice-cream and sour cherries on our arrival, and given a bottle of Skopelos honey to take back with us on our departure. We were invited for a fish barbeque at their house, with fish caught fresh that morning and grilled to salty perfection, and we watched the Euro semi-final (Portugal  vs Wales) in their living room while drinking scotch whisky. One afternoon, Vasoula made us the island specialty, ‘Skopelos cheese pie’ –feta cheese wrapped in dough and twisted into a coil, deep fried and drizzled with honey before consumption. Not for the faint of stomach. It lasted us the entire week.

Most of our time was spent on the beaches and in the water – so warm you could swim for hours before feeling any sort of chill. On our first day we rented a quad bike, definitely the best decision of our holiday. The roads twist up-and-down and while the buses are inexpensive, they only run every 1 to 2 hours. The quad bike was perfect: it gave us freedom to explore the island independently in the open air and sun, with the warm smell of vegetation and sea coming to us on the wind. Cars share the roads in equal measure with mopeds, motorcycles of all sizes, buses, and quad-bikes and we zoomed from beach to beach – swimming over the white stones of hidden Hovolo beach, sizzling our skin on the sands of Agnondas, or lying in the shelter of umbrellas at expensive beach bars. We climbed up through the brilliant bright houses of Skopelos town, each street a piece of living art and we even made it to the chapel where Meryl Streep runs up some dodgy looking stairs in Mamma Mia. The climb up those stairs is worth it for the view at the top, where you can stare down into blue waters that haven’t been photo-shopped but look like God painted them that morning with his own special colours.

Our only disappointment was that the best meals we had on the island were the ones we cooked ourselves or that Vasoula made for us – I’m sad to say that the restaurants were disappointing. I am an adventurous eater and self-proclaimed foodie, but was let down by the lack of flavour in most of the meals we tried, especially considering the incredible fresh ingredients at hand on the island – goat, feta, olives, herbs and a sea of fish. We did however, find the best mojito I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tried them in bars and restaurants on three different continents. This one was made by a proud, middle-aged Greek lady in Skopelos town who claimed to make the best cocktails in the world, and wasn’t lying. Her tiny cafĂ©-bar is a short climb up the edge of the town and smells of fresh mint. That mojito was worth every cent and more.

At the end of the week we said goodbye to our faithful quad-bike, packed the honey and some fresh oregano (picked by Babis on his walks into the mountains), and left Greece feeling brown and happy.

Dream fulfilled. Next stop, Israel.

31 October, 2014

Thrashings, freezings, and the worst thing a girl could ever feel... oh the life of a child!

The library club at Gateway Primary has been writing their own personal memoirs, writing them in memory snapshots of a child's world. Here are some of the best...unedited!

I Froze! by Jason Jani, grade 4I
When I was five I went to the toilet. I started looking at my face in the mirror because I could feel something poking out. Then suddenly, I froze and hit my head on the sink. I couldn't feel anything but I heard my brother running in. He saw that I wasn't moving. He screamed for my parents and my parents ran in. As soon as they saw me, they panicked. My father tried to open my mouth with the old car keys but suddenly I heard a crack. The keys broke!
My parents rushed me to the hospital. Sadly, I still don't know how I froze!

Themba Makoni's Memwa, grade 4I
I was in my bedroom changing after school when I heard my neighbour's dog bark. I wondered why the dog barked. Suddenly, I heard my brother scream. I ran to the guinea-pig cage and saw 99 dead guinea-pigs. One guinea-pig was missing. I looked in the cage; it was not there. I asked my brother but he said it was not there.
On the next day, I smelt a strange smell in my room. I looked in my cupboard and I saw it. I threw it away and sprayed my room with deodorant.

When I visited Botswana, by Cheif Musabayana, 4I
I was really excited to go and explore Botswana: for the first time I traveled to a place not in Zimbabwe. I saw cities I had never seen before. I thought I was dreaming. For the first day of the holiday, I woke up early. It did not really feel like a holiday when I woke up early. My father had woken me up because he thought I should go to the gym and beef up. I thought I should go to the gym for I had Chinese-noodle arms at that time.
After the gym I made a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of things that you will do before you die or before a certain time in your life. Well, I felt excited because I was going to overcome my worst fear: fish! Well, I could not say my worst fear is fish, but eating fish is my worst fear because of the eyes and skeleton of a fish. When I was three I ate fish and almost choked on a fish bone.
Before that I went to the mall with my mom and I saw an amazing toy. It was a giant truck and it was so cheap. I asked my father to buy it for me and he bought the truck for me. I was very happy and I felt like I had the best father in the world. I thanked my father with joy and love.
When we were coming out of the store, I saw a packet of gum which came with an action figure and that action figure was Spiderman!!!!! Spiderman was my favourite and I was really tempted to steal him and the gum. So, cunningly, I took the gum and action figure. At the food court later, I slipped up some gum and my dad caught me. He dragged me back to the sore and took out his Holy Bible in front of the shopkeeper and twacked me. It was really painful but I know I deserved it. We went back to the food court and I apologized to my dad and I ate my food in silence. The food was really good so I cheered up again.
After lunch we went back to the hotel and for the rest of the holiday I did not steal a thing and I ended up having an amazing holiday.

When I was Alone, by Munashe Mutamangira, grade 5M
It was a Monday morning. My parents were not yet here; it was silent and the electricity was not there. It was raining.
I looked at the crack in the wall. I kept hearing voices and it was dark. My brother was still sleeping. I could smell the chickens mom and dad had left.
I felt lonely.
I could feel raindrops on my head.
I felt scared so I went to the phone. There were some messages saying that they had some urgent business to attend to.
When I was alone.

Hartly dog died, by Zoey Nortier, grade 3Y
When my dog Hartly died I cried and felt very sad. I felt sorrow in my heart. I felt like I could have done something about it.
I closed my eyes and dreamed about me and her playing in the warm sun. On the bright, green, cool grass we played. The both of us enjoyed playing in the harmless grass and warm sun. I picked Hartly up and hugged her. Then we went inside.
Then I woke up from my dream and I hugged my mom and she said stop crying, it's okay.

The kid who haunted us, by Anesu Kanhai, grade 7M
It was a Saturday afternoon. I had come to pick up my next-door friends. So we were taking a walk in the neighbourhood and we dared each other to walk past the boundary of the close. I hated that place because it had stinking bushes and weird people.
We went but we did not go far. As soon as we were about to step an inch we all saw a kid riding his bike with full speed. We though he was passing by... As he came nearer we decided to run. That day I was with my little sister; she was still small. So we ran but the funniest thing happened; my little sister was behind and we were in front. The boy was next to her and we though that he was going to grab her by the collar. But she fell by herself in the bush and the kid stopped. She started to cry my name out...We stopped and stared and I got back and took her and we threw stones at his head and feet. He was angry. He chased us but he soon got tired.
We laughed at my sister on the way home.

The day I forgot my underwear, by Tapiwa Gwiza, grade 6I
It was a bright morning in 2009; the flowers were blooming the birds were chirping and... oh whatever! Why am I trying to make you people feel good when I'm not! Maybe you guys should be making me happy, because after I'm done with this story I'm going to be very embarrassed!
So, on with the story, well, it's time I told you by now, wow, it's getting pretty hard telling a secret I've kept for so long but... in grade one I forgot my underwear!! Man! Does it feel good to get secrets off your chest.
My first grade teacher, Miss Wilsher - aka the best teacher in the galaxy after my third grade teacher Miss Clark - was reading to us, like all first grade teacher do. I felt a well, you all know that feeling that says: YOU ARE IN DANGER! Well I had that. As soon as the feeling went I felt the worst thing a girl could ever feel, and that is having no underwear!
As soon as I felt it my tiny, cute and chubby face went hot. I quickly covered my dress. (By the way, don't judge me, because those were my early days of first grade and I was young. Now I'm a mature sixth grader and I've learnt my lesson). I was scared that the new faces around me would judge me and laugh, but now I've spend many years with those new faces and I know they will understand. OK, I lie; one person in the class, my best friend, will understand, the rest of them are immature monkeys who laugh all day. Most of them any way.
Just so you know, that was one time and I swear I will never ever in my young life do this wickedly embarrassing thing ever again. But some people in my class might...

The burnt hands, by Tinerudo Mawoyo, grade 7M
"Mama, ndirikumbira ceravita," I said, running to my mum's bedroom.
She was sitting on her bed, talking to my dad. She said I could so I ran to the kitchen and took my small stool which was slightly out of my reach. I reached my hand up to take it, but it was too far. I went up on my tiptoes and got a grip on it. I finally got it! Then my hand slipped and it came and hit my head. The maid, who was washing the dishes, put some cold water on my head and went back to what she was doing.
I got on my stool and turned on the stove. I put some milk in a pot. I then went to test if the stove was hot enough. I put both my hands and pushed them downs as hard as I could. I screamed at the top of my lungs. The neighbours came running through the front door. My mum came through the back because she had been doing gardening.
The maid got fired there and then and I was fed the ceravita in two bandaged hands.

The day I was thrashed, by Hannah Makowa, grade 7M
"What exactly happened?" the headmaster questioned.
"Well, the story begins here," we answered frightfully.
We were playing in the muddy pond at YFC (Young Farmers Club) when we saw the pig was ready to charge. We all got frightened and started doing extraordinary things: some ran up a tree, some climbed the roof and others went onto the slide. The boys began to be naughty and started throwing rocks at buildings. We broke a window but because it was in a hidden place nobody saw.
The boys decided not to throw rocks anymore and instead jumped over the fence. We all gathered around the fence and rashly decided to jump over the weakest side. It obviously broke, sir, and that is the true story. The pig did not break it as we said.
"Thank you," the headmaster said. "As you already know, I knew you guys were lying about the pig breaking the fence and that's why I have to thrash you."
With bottoms black and blue we sat, staring at the wall, vowing never to lie again.

Bye, bye kittens, by Farai Chimbera
It was a sunny morning, a Saturday. I woke up at 5 a.m. and checked the kitten's room (well, the study really, but it sleeps there) and there were these strange, small, black creatures. I thought they were rats. I was thinking, "why the heck is my cat cuddling rats?" So I got closer and I saw they were the cutest things. Kittens! My cat was now old, old enough to be a mother.
The whole day was me playing with them.
Then night came.
Electricity was gone and someone left the door open. Not only that but we had two dogs. One of them decided to do something bad. My sister came and told me the most horrible news I had ever heard; my dog had just devoured those poor, cute, defenseless, innocent things.
I knew cats and dogs were enemies but not to this much.
Even though my cat gave birth again, I will always miss the first kittens I ever had. 

28 September, 2014

If I had three wishes

If I had three wishes

I’d give them back because
I’d always be known
as the girl who’d blown
her wishes

on money, the chance to fly, and a free meal until I die.

you see,
I’d wish for money – not endless amounts but just
enough to pay my loans, buy my parents’ house for them and get my master’s degree;
I’d wish for a lifetime supply
of tickets to fly
anywhere in the world
(business class, of course)
and then,
I’d use my final wish on food;
a five-star restaurant meal in France – repeated just once a year until I die.

Now you think I’ve wasted them on the trivial,
that I’ve not asked for enough, that I’ve been self-centered,
you despair at the smallness of my mind
in wishing for

money, the chance to fly, and a free meal until I die

but wait, here’s why:

some might say I should wish for
world peace
                but then where would we be?
all people would probably have to die
for peace
and why
did God not decide to do salvation that way in the first place?
What would a socio-economic clean-up really mean;
what would the end of poverty
take away from us?

Truth is
I can’t try fix it all when I don’t know what further squall my fixes might create;
there’s just one God and I don’t really want his job.

So should I wish for sleep
- gosh that would be nice -
or no more zesa cuts
or a Zimbabwe free from those mutts who call themselves our leaders.

Should I wish for safety for the ones whose souls I care about?
would that sort our problems out
or take their chance at life away?
Should I ask for no more pain?
For universal pardon?
For anonymity
or fame?
For longer life
or death at birth?
I’d like to wish for no more fear
                but then who would I be
without my anxiety.

Because, you see,
if I wished for what I really want,
if I used my three free wishes to ask for peace and certainty,
                to ask above all things for truth,
then that would be the end of the real me.
And in reality
I have a life to live
and I don’t want to know the future

or how heavy the world really is.

22 September, 2014

Confessions of a Fake Librarian

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I work at Gateway Primary school. When they then ask which grade I teach I say, 'I'm not a teacher, I'm the librarian'. 

Now, never in my life did I plan to be (or think I would be) a librarian. So before starting this job nine months ago, my experience in and with libraries was fairly minimal. I don’t know if I should admit this but, the Dewey Decimal system – the instruction manual of a librarian’s life – scares the living daylights out of me. And I’m still trying to learn library lingo – when the kids ask me what a reference book is, and what the point of them is, I want to say, 'I know right?!' (But don't worry, I don't) Oh and lets not even talk about online libraries: does anyone here know what MARC Framework is? Because I haven’t the foggiest clue what it is or means. And apparently it’s important. 

So, confession number one: I’m sort of a fake librarian.

Besides the fact that I have a passion for reading and books, and for passing that passion on to others, plus I have a decent-enough combination of creativity and hard-work to visualize how things could change… I don’t really have any formal qualifications to be The Librarian. I’m a bit of a fake.

Ahem, I hope I haven’t lost my job now.

I have another confession: lately I’ve been feeling like a bit of a fake in my Christianity too.
I was recently asked to give a testimony at the beginning-of-term staff prayer meeting at my school (it's a Christian one) and I had to laugh inwardly at God’s timing (with all due respect, of course). God certainly has an ironic sense of humour because He knows my heart better than anyone, He knows that I haven’t been feeling very holy or God-focused or spiritually-stable recently. I may look like I have all the right answers, but I’ve been feeling like a little bit of a fake. So when I was asked to give a testimony I said "yes" to the deputy head (I've never been very good at "no"), and to God I said “Ok, well, I guess you know what you're doing. I’m trusting you to give me the words”.

You know, as Christians, we’re not always very honest about saying that being a Christian is hard. Not simply because of “persecution from the world out there” but because of doubts and fears and hurts within our own hearts.

I’ve enjoyed learning how to be a librarian, or at least, learning how to be my own sort of librarian (I doubt I’m very kosher, as librarians go). It’s been challenging and fun; every week is a new set of experiences. It can also be exhausting sometimes – especially when I make mistakes. And I've made plenty. It’s exhausting when I feel like I’m stumbling about and don’t quite know what I’m doing.

And it’s exhausting being a struggling Christian; keeping up appearances, constantly doing “the right thing” when inside your head is a jumble of questions and your heart is a jumble of anger and fear. The Bible – our instruction manual for life – often scares the living daylights out of me and while I may know all the Christian lingo – like most of us in the church, I’m good at using Christianese and having all the answers - honestly, over the last 6 months (actually the last three-four years), I’ve had a hard time with all that Christian lingo. Do we really know what we’re talking about when we say all those churchy words? Do we know the weight of them? Do we believe them and do we know how they sound to others? And honestly, sometimes, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with the questions and confusions and struggles that just seem to grow and grow with each new relationship or family struggle or painful situation that crops up in life.

So I want to confess that I’m a bit of a fake, because, good heavens, I find Christianity really hard.

But. You know what astounds me? Even though I feel a bit like the prodigal son at the moment, like a bit of a running rebel at times, the constant theme and lesson that God has been showing me this year is I am held, by Him. When I can’t seem to figure out what the right choice is, when my mistakes and sins pile up in my mind, when I sit in church and feel like such a hypocrite, when sometimes the only thing that I can pray is “God, please don’t ever let me go”… God shows me that he won’t. That He’s holding me and has held me through everything.

There's an old song I like, called Praise you in this Storm.  Here are some of the words from that song.

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, "Amen" and it's still raining
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on if I can't find You
But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands.
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

We all know that God is the all-mighty Judge, the Ruler and Creator who will make all things right, that He is a God of vengeance and a powerful King… but sometimes we don’t remember His gentle side. That He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, that He wasn’t in the earthquake or the fire, he was in the gentle whisper of blowing wind, that He is the shepherd who went after that stupid sheep lost in the dark cliffs. And can I tell you, I’m that stupid sheep lost in the dark cliffs! And the most comforting thing to me isn’t that He is the world’s judge and mighty creator – those things are good and true – but the most comforting thing to me right now, is that He is the gentle Father who chooses to show Himself in a whisper and follows me into the dark cliffs when I’m lost and scared and foolishly wandering further away from Him.

I may feel like a fake Christian, like a prodigal, wandering sheep, but God is still holding me gently. 

09 June, 2014

The biggest burden

I’m a bit of a loner. Yup. Surprise, surprise.

But see, there is a reason. It’s not just that I’m more “task-oriented” than others, (though that’s part of it) or that I’m an introvert (though that’s part of it, too) it’s also because I decided years ago – after feeling forgotten by others so easily – that it would be less painful if I learnt to be content with being by myself. So I did. And I got on quite well for several years. Despite my self-isolation, some brave and beautiful souls at University did manage push themselves into my heart. But I seldom let others carry me; I wanted to be “the strong one” and I was afraid that, if they saw the ‘real me’ they would drop me. So I was always extremely careful about who and how much I relied on other people.

And then, not too long ago, I was shown that I’m not as content or as wise or as strong as I thought. I opened up, made mistakes, got hurt in ways I didn’t think possible, and fell hard. My immediate reaction was retreat; retreat once again behind the walls, refuse to let anyone touch me. I decided that the answer was to stop giving, to stop sharing my heart, to stop showing people I cared, to go back to being ‘happy’ as a loner.

Then I wouldn’t get hurt again.

But I’m beginning to realize that this might not be the best course of action. Closing myself off may keep me from people who can hurt and leave me, but it still causes pain. Closing myself off makes me bitter, it makes me seem cold, callous and uncaring, it leads me to be suspicious of all who approach and to treat them like potential enemies, instead of potential friends. It perpetuates my self-focused fear, my self-absorption. Letting people in may lead to being hurt, but closing people out can do just as much (and maybe even more) damage.

Besides, even though being hurt is, well, painful (duh) and wounds take time to heal – sometimes the scars and twinges are with us for the rest of our lives, sometimes they disappear completely – but most of the time they teach us to recognize and be more sensitive to the hurts in others.

I think I’m learning (but I’m a slow learner) that the answer isn’t isolation: pretending not to care may hurt less than caring, but I’m tired of pretending not to care. I want to keep caring. I want to keep trusting. So the answer isn’t withdrawal; its love. Wise, forgiving, gentle love.

But love is a burden. I promise I’m not saying that in any tragic-romance, Spiderman-(whatever-her-name-is) kind of way, nor in a woe-is-me, people-are-jerks kind of a way. I’m saying it with sobriety and with hope. Truth is, we’ll never find someone who will always treat us right, we’ll never find someone who won’t hurt or disappoint or forget to see us. We’re human. That’s the sober reality. The hope part is that this doesn’t mean we have to stop loving others, it means that real, through-the-pain love is so precious that we should keep reaching for it! If we manage to keep it going, to keep loving and trusting others, knowing that they might (and probably will) hurt us, and that we’ll hurt them back, if we forgive and ask for forgiveness – then this dismal world will be a little lighter.

I’m not saying that’s easy but at least I only have one lifetime to love and get hurt by people. Just imagine having every lifetime and every life – what a burden God’s love must be to Him! We humans, the very children He created out of love, just keep walking away and rebelling; we keep chasing after others and telling Him we don’t need Him, we flick Him away like dust off our shoulders, we scream in anger when we don’t understand. To my shame, I’ve done it all. And there’s like a gajillion souls in the world – each of them (us) has hurt and left Him in some way/form/time.

God has the biggest burden of all. For some reason, that makes me want follow Him the most. It gives me such hope that I (and others) can live through my bumbling attempts to care for people.

So, following His lead, I have to try to not close myself off. I have to learn to desperately and sincerely, and (more often than not) clumsily love the people He’s brought into my heart and life.  Even knowing that I may well fall hard, again. 

27 April, 2014

More Than My Whiteness

Race is never not a part of my interactions and identity in Zim. And I’m constantly gob-smacked when I encounter a person living his/her life in oblivion to the colour of their own skin and the weight of history that it carries, the invisible implications etched all over, and the reality of their own prejudices.

The other day, I crossed from one side of Harare to the other; from one racial and social existence to another, from one world and life to another.

It was a little strange to realize that I don’t belong in either world.

On Wednesday, I spent a few hours “down-down-town”, shopping with a friend in the part of town where streets are crammed and crowded with people. We bumped and wended our way through the striding, shouting, grabbing masses, being called after to buy coat-hangers, phone-lines, onions, men’s belts, passport-holders… you name it. It’s the part of town where you can buy flats/pumps for $4, where you don’t hear a word of English being chatted, where shouts of “hey sissi” (sister) and “I love you, baby” follow you around if you happen to be female. Oh yeah, and white. There is nary a white person around, downtown. Except that day, there was me; a shining beacon of whiteness that didn’t belong among the brown bodies flowing and shouting their way through the streets. My friend and I drew stares and comments and whistles. Oh the joys of being female. My friend – a stunning black girl with high-cheek bones, smooth, dark skin and a fashion sense I envy – was the perfect companion and guide. We laughed at some comments, shook our heads at others, ignored most. A few times, however, when I refused to engage with some idiot male, someone would shout after us in Shona and she would interpret: “You with the dark skin, tell the other pretty one to come here” or, from a man leaning out the window of a kombi, “why is it that one is born light and the other born dark?” Appraised and valued like goats or hats, all based on the colour of our skins.

And then from there I drove across town to Borrowdale Village – a shopping centre with prosperous businesses, high-end shops, fancy restaurants and the city’s newest cinemas. It’s the part of Harare where pumps/flats cost $20-50, where white ladies meet for tea and black business men for lunch, where money is no object, and brand-name-clothed teens stroll through the shops with iPhones in hand. In the coffee shop where I parked myself for the afternoon to write e-mails, the waiters are all black and the only person working the cash register was (and is always) a white guy. (OK, maybe that was callous, but it’s reality). It’s actually one of my favourite coffee places – the service is excellent, the food and drink good and the wifi decent. I can sit myself there for a few, uninterrupted hours with my computer.

But. It’s also a place where I feel the scratchy, sticky feeling of being a rich, white young woman – there is always a keen and heavy social/racial divide between myself and the waiter who serves me. I feel just as uncomfortable and out-of-place there as I do downtown. The waiter speaks to my whiteness, my assumed wealth, my supposed higher social standing. Server and Served live in separate realities and only interact as goods and money exchange hands, relating as through an unbreakable window of one-way glass. There’s no relationship, no conversation as equals, no way for me to cross over or reach out. Once again, I, we, are appraised and dismissed by the colour of our skin.

My race is important, it’s a huge part of me, but it’s not all there is to me. Or you. Or the person standing next to you in the grocery queue. I think, realizing that I don’t belong on either “side” of town is kind of cool. It lets me step into each one, every now and then, to discover how to go deeper, how to share the beauty of our differences instead of letting them define and divide us. 

08 January, 2014


I went outside tonight,
and wasn’t supposed to.

I was supposed to be
locking the house
taking down decorations
cooking mealies,
But I leaned outside the door
and outside looked so full,

So I stepped into it.

It was turning dark out there,
My feet felt good in the pool.
I lay on concrete stones
Under the grey-blue 
and stretching behind the house
saw still white-streaked clouds.
The bats were out – 
dipping for a drink. Behind
the roof two fir-trees have 
a bad haircut.
The trees around
must laugh;
We chopped off their heads
so they won’t fall on the house.

The yellow window lights
were in the pool,
The buzzing, tapping crickets
were just as loud as cars
and I smelt chlorine.

I lay outside, 5 minutes.

I thought
I should go in;
The water would be boiling
the veggie shepherd’s pie, 
the table needed setting.

There was a frog hopping by,
across the doorway, sneaking
to his place in the drainpipe.
“Mister Frog,” I warned,
You better not hop inside,
you better not croak all night.

I went outside tonight,
when I wasn’t supposed to
and it was beautiful.
I wanted to share it with you

But you aren’t here.