This month I have officially been in Johannesburg for 20 months – almost 2 years! I’m not going to even attempt to sugar-coat the fact – it has been ROUGH! I can honestly say it has been the hardest time in my life to date. This trumps long distance love, heart ache and living in a hostel for 4 years.
When I first moved to Jozi as a newly-wed, I expected a few tough days and a little bit of home sickness. But how hard could it be? I was just married, moving in with the love of my life into an amazing little home. We were finally together after months and months apart. I was already a city gal, I was so sure I would easily slip into this way of life. Not even the hustle bustle, fast pace of Johannesburg scared me – I am a fast paced, always on the move kind of person. What I didn’t take into account is how tight Cape Town’s grasp on my heart was.
I cried every night for months, and I mean months. I cried for my friends and family, for my mountain (yes, I decided it was MY mountain), for the beaches, for late sunsets and for my previous lifestyle. It reached a certain point where it was just becoming unbearable and Dan suggested (very strongly) that I might want to seek professional help. Which I did, and it certainly made a difference! Please don’t get me wrong, this was not an overnight success, it took a good few months.
I realised that I had to make a choice, Dan and I had to make a choice: were we in or were we out? We couldn’t have one foot in Cape Town and one foot in Jozi. And so we decided that Jozi it was. We believed (and still do) that we made our way to the big smoke for a reason and we wanted to stick around to find out what that reason was.
The first thing that I did, which is still an on-going process, is that I stopped comparing Johannesburg to Cape Town. They are completely different cities – like comparing apples to bananas. Yes Cape Town has its draw cards, but Johannesburg has it’s gems too. I just had to actually look for them. So I went online and searched and searched and searched. Now, Dan and I have some absolute favourite spots that we go to regularly and enjoy. We also constantly keep an eye out for new restaurants or markets opening and go try them out – sometimes they’re a hit, sometimes they’re a miss. But the point is that we try.
Another thing we have made a point of (although have become a little bit lazy with recently) is getting involved within our community. We chose to get involved in a local church and made friends from there. We went to pretty much every single social invitation that we got. You see, its difficult making friends in your late 20’s when you have no history where you are living. We didn’t go to varsity or school with anyone here, we don’t have kids that go to the same school, I didn’t even have a job to make friends at in the beginning! One thing I can say for sure about people up here, if they say “we should have a braai and you guys should come”, they are legit – that braai is happening, and it’s happening next week.
Something that I had to make peace with, is that Cape Town will always be home. I will always feel that nostalgia when I’m there and I will always want to go back. There is nothing wrong with that, but it cannot consume me and my life here in Joburg. Just because I loved my life in mother city, does not mean I cannot embrace my new life here. I try go back as often as I can – for every wedding and every long weekend that the budget will allow. I Skype my special people as often as I can and always make a plan to see them when I am in town. You see, my connection to Cape Town is as much about the beautiful city as it is the people that I love that live there.
The amazing thing is that, through all of this intentional living, through all of the conscious decisions that I have made personally and that Dan and I have made as a couple; I have found purpose and feel more fulfilled. I know that I am not just watching time pass by until we go back to Cape Town. I am living my life here, creating a home that I love and making friendships I know will last a lifetime. And let’s be honest, what could be better than that?