12 days ago I was at Incheon airport in Seoul paying for overweight baggage, desperately just trying to get on the plane to Hong Kong.
3 and half hours later I was in Hong Kong being whisked away by security in one of those airport-golf-carts in a mad dash to get from one terminal to another for my connection to Johannesburg.
13 hours later one of the Mama’s at customs at OR Tambo International was scanning my passport and saying ‘welcome home’.
Yes, I had made it. I was here.
It felt surreal to have my feet planted on home soil again. To look around and see familiar faces. To stand near people and not just overhear their conversations but understand it as well.
To drive on roads mapped to my memory and breathe in the expanse and beauty of the landscape. To be hugged by the warm Highveld sun and smiled upon by the clear blue African sky.
It all felt so dreamy for the first 24 hours. Until the realities of trying to get myself re-integrated into the daily business of South African life started hitting me all upside the head.
For the first few days my mother became my conjoined twin because in order to exchange money, buy a sim card for my phone, buy airtime to make calls and buy a data bundle for internet connection I needed to have proof of a South African address, which I did not, for obvious reasons, possess. Mother dearest to the rescue.
Leaving a land of fast internet connection and access to wifi literally everywhere and coming to a land of slow internet connection and literally no wifi access anywhere, is hard. And frustrating.
Leaving a land with a fast, efficient and friendly service industry whether it is government, business or private and coming to a land with “I’ll take your money and fuck you” service industry whether it be government, business or private, is hard. And shocking.
Sitting in a restaurant or at a family dinner table and suddenly being tuned in to every conversation going on around you and trying to keep up, is hard. And overwhelming.
Trying to catch up with friends and close a 2 year gap is hard. And sometimes impossible.
Being in public and making sure your handbag is closed at all times or keeping your eye on your cell phone that you left on a table or making sure that your car is locked properly, is hard. And annoying.
I was really looking forward to coming home. I wanted to come home. I made the choice to come home.
There have been fleeting moments when I’ve felt frustrated, shocked, overwhelmed or annoyed, where I questioned whether I made the right decision. When doubt set in.
But a conversation with my sister and nephew recently, made me realise that with the all the things we want or desire in life, with all the things that make us happy, we mostly have to make certain sacrifices to get them. Sometimes little sacrifices and sometimes big sacrifices.
For me to live in my country with such an abundance of beauty, with the choice of mountains, forests, beaches, safaris, wine farms, and big open space and an abundance of activity to go with it, I have to make certain sacrifices.
So the question is not about want or desire or happiness, it’s about sacrifice.
And the willingness to do it.
Not sure yet.