While visiting Taiwan last July Alexander suggested to me that it was time we think about settling in one of our respective home countries. Living in Asia has been fun he said, but it was time to be somewhere familiar and be surrounded by people who speak the same language as us. My heart dropped.
At this point we have been living in Bangkok for just under a year. We spent the summer in Taiwan, where I lived for 6 years until 2006, teaching summer school and visiting old friends. Ever since my first visit to Taiwan I was pretty attached to Asia, and after years in Taiwan I was pretty used to language and cultural barriers, as frustrating as they may be at times. I lived in South Africa again for most of 2006, but it did not work for me. I desired to be somewhere foreign. So we decided to start traveling together, and as he’s never been to Asia and I loved it so much it seemed an obvious choice. I was happy here and could easily have stayed. I was not exactly ready to move back to South Africa again.
After some initial hesitation I warmed to the idea and we decided to try moving back to his native United States. The US would work for me. I love it there and even though I understand the language perfectly and it feels closer to home than anywhere in Asia I would still be ‘a foreigner.’ However, our dream of living back in Los Angeles soon disintegrated as we realized that we had/have absolutely zero chance of being allowed the same privileges afforded to heterosexual couples in the US. As a gay couple, of which one half is not American, we would not be very welcome. Those homophobes at immigration would not hear about it.
This unfortunate realization was met by some depression from both of us. But despair soon turned into joy as we realized that we could move back to South Africa, get married here and settle into a comfortable lifestyle in Cape Town, the city where we met and both loved.
Admittedly I was still a little hesitant, I was worried that I would not be able to quite root back in SA again. But, I love the country; it is where many of my friends and all of my family is. The food is fun, it’s a beautiful place and we’d be able to possibly start our own café. So a decision was made and about 7 months later we arrived in Cape Town. Ready for a new start and very ready to settle into our own home, especially after being on the road for the last part of 2008.
And now, after another 8 months have lapsed, we are pretty settled. We have a washing machine, I re-upholstered the sofa, we painted, there is a garden happening on the balcony, we have a popular food stand at the Neighbourgoods Market, and a standing order at Wild Organics for fresh produce every week. It’s a good life. Only two weeks ago I suggested we get a dog.
Until I got this email from a friend hinting that I should come visit her in Canada. Which got me to thinking about traveling again. Leading to me realizing that despite enjoying this settled business there has been something missing in my life since about June this year. And that’s when I turned to Alexander in the middle of a market day and suggested we quit this baby, book some flights and start living the peripatetic life again.
You know that thing about hesitation before an answer meaning no? Well there was no hesitation in his answer and by the time we met with some friends for Sunday brunch the next day we pretty much had an itinerary for the next 3 years planned.
As for all the traces in our apartment of an established life, it will be hard parting with some of them. We cannot afford putting everything into storage, so some things we’ll have to sell, give away or donate. Some will go into storage at my parents for the next time we feel like settling. The dreams of getting a French bulldog, a pug and two stray cats will have to be shelved for now. I’m sure I’ll get to acquaint myself with many friendly cats along the way as a consolation.
It was good being settled and living in South Africa again. Despite the shitty internet, extortionist bank charges (yes I’m talking about you FNB), sycophantic celebrity culture (thanks Alexander- and if you clicked on the link and thought both of those were unattractive ladies you're WRONG), and cheap style (a nod in the direction of Truworths), it is a brilliant place to live and I love it here. But, well… there’s a plane ticket with my name on it and I have to go claim it.