You Know You’re Home …

You know you’re home

…because of the way a rising sun bleeds a deep scarlet high up into the clouds where you’re British Airways suspended and reminds you you’re African dawn bound, because of the way it collapses to powder blue with just the trace of pink blush too quickly for you to catch it on camera.

… Because bloody Im-Precision Air demands you pay for excess baggage on 4Kg. And with a cursory glance at the scales and absolutely no indication of any kind of a calculation knows just how much you have to pay. Too much: more than you have in your purse. They accept the little you do have. Which leaves you with precisely (the only precise thing about the morning) nothing to buy your hot, cross, tired daughter a coke when your flight is delayed. And then they refuse to issue you with a receipt; they tell you that the paltry amount you have tended will not cover the paper it is written on. Even though it would have bought a generous round of cokes for every other hot, cross, tired passenger in the Departure Lounge when take-off is, predictably and with no explanation why, delayed.

… Because the dogs smile broadly at your arrival and – needily – will not leave your side for days.

… Because there is no rain, only highbluewhite skies as we tumble into our African winter – a misnomer; it is merely mildly less hot than our summer. You’re still in shorts. With sheep skin slippers early in the morning so that bare feet are protected from cold stone floors. It’s an unusual combo. But then again so are Ugg boots and capri pants a la Sienna Miller.

… Because you’re swimming again. Not at dawn. The water is too African-winter-night-time icy for that. Late in the evening when it has warmed just a little but not so much that you swim any way but as fast as you can so that soon you are breathing hard and your arms ache from ploughing through vodka-on-the-rocks clear water.

… Because when you go shopping you don’t dawdle down wide throated aisles wondering, and wandering, aimlessly at the 55 different breakfast cereals on offer. You just buy what Kaidi has – Kellogg’s Cornflakes – and hope they aren’t stale.

… Because you cannot hear the early morning departure of commuters. Only the insistent cackle of indignant guinea fowl and the melancholy hooting of trains as they rumble by distantly.

… Because you can see the night sky. The sputtering glow of a thousand stars bright against a deep velvet night whose richness has not been leached by a neon glow, because you can watch the moon rise: amber, honeyed it slides up and hangs all night like a reading lamp so bright you wonder who left outside lights on.

… Because even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t feel lonely, you do. Even though you told yourself that five weeks of Busy, five weeks of Total Immersion in the Real World, Five Weeks of Social Feast would sustain you through impending famine, would render you gracious under the scrutiny of barefaced isolation, it doesn’t.

How could it: it only reminds you what you’re missing.

So you pour yourself a very cold beer and you watch the sky and you smile at red eyed shrikes gorging on voluptuously plump, pink-fleshed guava and you Count Your Blessings like your mother taught you to.



28 Responses to “You Know You’re Home …”

  1. Milla Says:

    another beautiful and elegant post, young Memsahib.

  2. delwyn Says:

    Hi there,
    Is this the reluctance of the reluctant memsahib showing her face?
    You have written a great post – with intertwining emotions… thank you
    Happy Days

  3. Laura Driver Says:

    Aaaah, sounds like a nice place to live. Reading this, I feel like I’m there.

  4. Mapesbury Mum Says:

    Hey you old…..- was wandering where you’d been!! Our husband/daddy is back after a week in Geneva with his family. Despite the fact we were all pleased to see him and hugs and kisses all round, it was the dog who seemed to be the most excited at his return and tries not to leave his side! Looking forward to you posting your next silver/bead accomplishment.

  5. lulu campbell Says:

    Welcome home and looking forward to seeing some of your silverwork x

  6. nolagringa Says:

    Your language is so beautiful.

    I feel twinges of envy whenever I read your posts. I love my life in the city but I would trade it in a heartbeat to go back to Africa, to live as you do, even knowing how very difficult it is.

  7. nuttycow Says:

    Welcome back!

    Imprecision Air sound like they’ve excelled themselves once more!

  8. The Gossamer Woman Says:

    Counting your blessings is hard when they seem so meager compared to the blessings you had where you just came from. You must count them, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, but what a task it is! It’s not very humbly done, is it? I would roar and rage first and then maybe count them.

  9. janelle Says:

    welcome back babe. you been away for aaaaaaaaaaaaages…. xxx j

  10. Potty Mummy Says:

    Beautiful photo. Lovely post. Welcome back.

  11. Iota Says:

    So are you setting up in business as a silversmith?

  12. paradise lost in translation Says:

    Yes, it’s hard, to know what you’re missing. It does fill you up & make you feel replete with friendships & lovely activity & busyness, & you think, ‘this will stave off the hunger pangs’ but it doesn’t, it seeps away so very fast once back & leaves you thirsting for more. I know.

  13. Jo Says:

    I always enjoy your posts, very beautifully written.

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you, Milla.

    certainly, delwyn. the reluctance …

    laura … not sure about that, about living here. but a nice place to escape to. when you feel the urge to get right away from it all … but thank you.

  15. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    hello mapesbury. glad he’s back. how’s the quilt?

    lulu, thank you. hmmmm. it was easier surrounded by supportive studio, feels a little more scary here. i’ll have a bash though!

    nolagringa – thank you but the grass is always a shade a greener no?

    thanks nutty. They just keep doing that – outdoing themselves! wisht they’d apply some of the effort to improving the service. but then i’d have nothing to write about i suppose?

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Gossamer, how generous of you. oh but i do: rage and rant and foam at the mouth. and then sit down – exhausted – and begin counting! x

    hello j! xx

    ah. thank you Potty. x

    i don’t know about silversmithing, Iota, that was a tad difficult. But i’ll give the silver clay and beads a go …

  17. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    aaahhh Paradise. How aptly put. you know precisely what i mean. thank you for making me feel less alone in my furious isolation. x

    thank you very much jo.

  18. upsidebackwards Says:

    You manage to make me wistfully homesick for one place I’ve never been and another I’ve only visited… Welcome home!

  19. gaelikaa Says:

    You live in a beautiful place. Even if it’s difficult to get there.

  20. R. Sherman Says:

    If there were only a way to have more “face to face” time along the opportunity to disengage and watch the sky alone when necessary. Alas, all of our lives are made up of trade-offs with us alternating missing one thing or another. You’ve seem to done pretty well at juggling things.


  21. Maternal Tales Says:

    You write so so beautifully I just want to read more and more of your posts…Thankyou!

  22. Expat Mum Says:

    It took me a long time to settle in the States, and I’m not sure that I have at all. The worst times however, are when I come back from England. Even though i always think a 6 week sojourn will sustain me till next year, it usually unsettles me all over again.

  23. carol Says:

    Glad to read another post… was worried you had become ‘very reluctant!’ – I also noticed how bright the moon was the other night – if you walked outside you made a shadow… was that a song once ‘moon shadow’ – bit before my time though!!! Lots of love

  24. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    gaelikaa: thanks for dropping by. I do. Even if, as you say, its hard to get into. And out of!

    Ah. Mr Sherman. Hello. How nice to see you. And you’re right: it’s all about trade-offs. Reminding myself of what I have gained helps assuage the emptiness at what I have given up.

  25. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Maternal – that’s very generous of you. Thank you. And kind given I can be most ungracious!

    Thanks Expat Mum: that helps make me feel less … alone? bolshy? ungracious even? Thanks.

    Moon Shadow. I do remember. Though perhaps only because music hit our growing up East African scene a long time after it hit anywhere else (lest I sound fearfully old!). And you’re right: wonderfully moonlit nights can cast fabulous shadows. I’m trying to be less reluctant! x

  26. Tash Says:

    Though I’m many miles away, feels like I’m in the same place… I know its lovely here, and when I’m home I tell myself, and my friends, that it is. But when I get here, oh how remote from normality it feels. Or maybe – what’s worse – is that being unable to talk to people, dealing with problems, in a foreign language, and feeling sometimes so very alone, is beginning to be normal, and the brief sojourns back home are the exceptions to the rule! Un, deux, trois…

  27. Tash Says:

    ps, I can even remember Mum, who didn’t really like England that much in the ‘old days’ being unsettled each time she got home. A huge part of that is leaving family (especially mums) behind…

  28. rosiero Says:

    I guess you have to have the lows to appreciate the highs and vice versa. Hope it won’t be too long before you get another break away.

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