Anniversaries are for Sad things too

Grief will remind you how fleeting life is. Won’t you live?

Grieve, so you can be free to feel something else.

Nayyirah Waheed

Nejma

The above quote has become my mantra. I lost my best friend two years ago, today.

I never fully unpack a suitcase until I have used all its contents, or my mother demands it. She has since given up and lets me trip over it for whatever period I spend at home. I would be dishonest if I did not mention the fact that my suitcase moonlights as a bar “fridge”. You see, my favourite thing to to en route to Africa (read Zimbabwe), is to stroll through the Duty Free shop and buy a few (like 2 or 3, calm down) one litre bottles of vodka. For some reason, the Duty Free store stocks variations that you don’t see at your local liquor shop and this makes for interesting holiday buzzing. Anyway, I’ll purchase those and hide them in my suitcase. This will explain why, during my Africa stints, you will likely find me at home babysitting the same tumbler of Mazoe with tons of ice. All day. I think my family has chalked it up to extreme homesickness and finds it endearing that I love our national drink this much, which works for me. To be honest, I’m surprised inyongo hasn’t killed me yet.

Anyway,  on this particular Thursday morning in January, at the height of summer in Africa, I packed the last of my belongings back into the suitcase I had been living out of for the past four and half weeks. Except for the now empty vodka bottles. Those I stashed into my ginormous “purse” so that I could dispose of them in a bin that didn’t belong to my mother. Yes, I’m 27. No, I will never drink openly in front of my parents. Please stop asking me why. As I packed, I cross referenced with my list. I pack with a list because I’m an adult that needs order. (I can feel the judgment).  Fine, I pack with a list because I’m afraid of forgetting things. As I zipped the bag up, in my mind I scheduled the day’s appointments and calculated the time I would have to say goodbye to my friends before dashing to the airport.

Father had loaned me his car – mostly because Mother doesn’t let anyone drive her car and, honestly, with the calibre of drivers in our household, I do not blame her. I lined up my luggage in the foyer for quick transfer later, and gently carried my handbag and its contraband contents to the car before my mother heard the telltale sound of clanging bottles and ordered me to lie on the ground with my hands visible so she could conduct a thorough investigation. (cue sirens).

This is funny because that is almost exactly how this would have gone.

I had breakfast, (okay, chocolate cake) at Mary’s Corner with a childhood friend who is now married with three children. (Two at the time). The most beautiful boys and a girl. We spoke about how different our lives were and she showed me pictures of her sons in uniform and I had to all but bat my ovaries down. And here I was jetting off to singlehood and general debauchery in the Cape with blessed little to be responsible for. I remember feeling a bit awkward because all my stories began with atrocious giggling due to the the sheer ridiculousness of the tales, whilst hers were homey, familiar and most definitely involved an assortment of baked goods and consistent cuddles. (Sheds thug tear).

I then sped off to the Tin Cup. It may or may not have been before noon, but I was on holiday and as my body was now 40% vodka anyway, who was I to deny my parched throat? I recall sitting near the window with one half of my favourite cousins (yes, twins) downing ciders and eating the fries from his girlfriend’s plate. Side bar – she and I hit it off that day. So much so, that she once carried an order of Chicken Inn (KFC but better) from Bulawayo to Cape Town for me. Legendary stuff. I had a 2 o’clock meeting with Natalie at the Boma (is it still called the Boma? The one at the dams?). Please note, I rarely drove around my city, and I never did it tipsy. So picture this; It’s I.50pm and I have a 3pm buzz going. I’m recklessly racing towards the back entrance to the dams, I keep missing the turn because, well, buzz, and she is texting me like I’m a slow 13 year old. She was so rude to me. I mean, she had no regard for my adultness and general respectability. I loved that. If a stranger ever read our texts, they’d wonder why we even bothered.

When I finally walked up to her table – it really was hers. Apparently she had a corner that she’d claimed. It was by a bench, in a corner, with all the cushions. her slops were on the floor and her legs dangled from the seat. And she’d ordered me wine. Come to think of it, that may be why we were friends. All the wine. But that wouldn’t explain that horrendous Spice Girls performance from grade 4 after that one breaktime. She was Posh spice (of course), and I was Scary Spice (another of course). It went quite well I think, after I’d stopped crying because Joanne had kicked my shins for some reason or the other.

The wine wouldn’t explain NRZ – the rap trio she, Zola and myself formed. Our  one and only hit was a bunch of slick lines spat over makeshift drumbeats to Busta Rhymes’ “Touch it”. Our tag line was “NRZ, keeping you on track”.

Gosh, we were so cool.

The wine wouldn’t explain the break times we spent harmonising to Destiny’s Childand Ne-yo with Zola (DRAMATIC). Or how we slayed our first live performance of Fever at Isigodlo Samakhosi. Or how after that performance, she caught me canoodling with what I can now confidently describe as a “not my type” boy outside. (In my defence, he played the guitar, so, what choice did I have?) Or the way we spoke about that night for weeks afterwards,  because that was how exceptionally boring our lives were.

The wine wouldn’t explain the heart-to-hearts we had in the prefect’s common room (I had to drop that in. Thank goodness I did not peak in high school because, wow). We’d head up the wooden stairs to what I imagine used to be the attic in the house that was now our school administration headquarters.  And there, during our free periods,  whenever we found ourselves alone, we’d share our deepest secrets. And I don’t mean the standard, predictable teenage angst-filled boy nonsense. I mean, there was plenty of that, but sometimes,  really deep stuff. Existential crises and fears of inadequacy. Even then, she was years wiser than I. She gave the most sound advice and to ease the silence, she’d tease me relentlessly about the length of my school skirt.

I remember settling in next to her on those cushions that summer’s afternoon and reading one of her journals. She wrote all the time. So honestly. Some of it left me speechless. I cried. She cried. We then laughed hysterically about the folly of our youth until the waitress side-eyed us from her station – although there wasn’t anybody else there. I remember leaving my wine for her to finish because I’d been summoned by Mother and was petrified of missing my flight and having to explain that I had been side tracked by grapes. I popped some chewing gum to disguise my activities and left. She remained to write, she said.

She yelled out my childhood nickname as I climbed into the driver’s seat. I rolled my eyes and waved from the window as I drove off at breakneck speed. Probably not the wisest of my decisions. My heart was happy.

That was my last memory of Nat. Happy. And Lord, so beautiful.

2 weeks later, I woke up to the news. And my world hasn’t been the same since. Yeah it hurts a little less every day, but it still hurts.

The Empress.

Things I whisper To The Walls

Pity parties are no fun because can’t nobody dance with you (Update, I’ve changed my mind re psychologists)

There are few things as dumb founding as waking up one morning and realising that one is teetering quite precariously on the edge of depression. A few months ago, after going for days without chocolate or reality TV(and noticing an odd bruise on my right thigh that was turning green-no recollection whatsoever of how it was acquired), I finally accepted the symptoms as out of character and evidence of some mysterious forces forcing me to abstain from my addictions. (the bruise was an incidental and I still have no clue how…why…).

The things that have been going on in my life for the last ±12 months have all boiled down to one situation-I have been unhappy forever and the only therapist I’ve allowed my non-progressive self to cry the inner workings of my slowly shutting down mind to has been my low rental, cosy and white walled room. (I’ve always looked down upon people who see shrinks because I could never imagine pouring out my deepest, darkest and nastiest to an absolute stranger who probably has devil spawn children and is still in the closet).

Red wine became my best friend and I was always armed with gallons in my blood stream before tackling a night on the town. I mean this is standard behaviour for a college girl from across the way who can’t afford a cab to Long Street, entry into my favourite club AND to walk in sober – all in one night – but I’m talking everyday. One of the managers at the Tops around the corner yells “Shiraz or Pinotage today?” every time I walk in. (Hides face behind perfectly manicured nailed hands).

Anyway, on the morning I self diagnosed as an angry unhappy (albeit sexy and charming) 22 year old female, I got up, picked up my celly and messaged my brother (thank God for BBM- a la Xigubu) and told him I loved him. I WhatsApped my little brother and told him he’s made me proud because he’s the first of his siblings to don a gown and graduate-we never thought we’d see the day. I emailed my parents and let them know I was content with the life they have provided-for now. One day I’m going to be insanely successful and own a walk-in closet to house my many many shoes along with a well stocked wine cellar to cater for my vice.

The moral of the story is pity parties are no fun because can’t nobody dance with you. I love the people in my life that make me happy. I even love the assholes the contribute to the drama in my life that allows me to tell ridiculously entertaining stories about the numerous awkward moments and fantastical escapades. I have too much to live for to spend my time wallowing in misery and drowning in my booze (although I don’t mind the drowning that much).

Peace, love and the absence of psychologists.

The Empress

Of chocolate cake and copious amounts of liquor

I a woman of many talents but none of my numerous gifts are as impressive as the wonders I conjure up in an apron

Today I baked a cake. A pretty scrumptious looking one if i do say so myself. And my handy work tasted even better. People say it’s bad manners to toot my own horn-i disagree. Vehemently. I a woman of many talents but none of my numerous gifts are as impressive as the wonders I conjure up in an apron and earphones blaring Ryan Lesley-he’s my cooking mate and we shall have many children he just does not know it yet. I’m a bit scared to let him know in case scare him off..I hear baby-talk does that to the male species.

As always, I digress..and as I was saying, I am a BEAST in the kitchen. And if my ghetto lingo (remember them?) does not articulate to you just how amazing I am when standing in front of a stove let me break it down to you; you know the stirring in your loins you feel when you see a beautifully sculpted human being and said human being is striding past and away in slow motion much like they do on the beaches of Baywatch? Now imagine that feeling in your mouth and imagine that being achieved without the assistance of aforementioned human being (let’s face it, it wasn’t gonna happen anyway-that’s what my dark chocolate cake will do to you. Well that’s what it does for me and my family members – although they wouldn’t describe it as being orgasmic because that might be a bit awkward coming from mother dearest…but I see it in their facial expressions. They are as happy as they’ll ever be with a spoonful of cake in their mouths.

A friend of mine is baffled by how I can be a law student, love to party and guzzle wine like I do and yet still find time to cook hearty meals (she’s always at my house eating said meals). She calls me “the last of the Mohicans”, which I quite like because it makes me feel like a rhino that might be going extinct and the world is trying to save me except I don’t have to run from poachers.I don’t like running much. I lie. I don’t like running at all but a girl has to do what she has to what with all this food consumption. She (my eating friend) likes to insinuate that I will be a great wife because I cook voluntarily and with love except, she doesn’t think the Ryan thing and the ever present bottle standing almost ceremoniously at the end of the counter (Ryan sometimes takes breaks and the red keeps me company) will fly with husband. She feels that advertising my vice will reduce my points. My argument is if he”s full and happy, he wont notice.

At the end of the day I know I am no super model and if this lawyer business doesn’t work out (which it will because I’m good at that too but that’s a story for another day) at least my family will not go to bed hungry or upset because dinner went terribly wrong. Few things make me happier that a room full of the people I love and know dirty secrets about with bellies stuffed with my creations, smiles on their faces and a glass of red in my hand.

Peace, love and niggeritis

The Empress

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