So, it is my turn to say something about Bev, and after all the nice, and well, mostly true, things she said about me so eloquently, I feel intimidated. I say mostly true because I will never question Bev’s intelligence, with or without a frowny brow and the mouth thing I apparently do!
I met Bev on Valentines Day in 2010. She was my partner’s friend and had invited us to a Valentine’s picnic in her garden in Johannesburg. We hardly chatted that evening, because there were a few other people there, and Bev was pretty stressed out due to her emotionally abusive partner. The one thing that jumped out at me though was her wicked, sushi-knife-sharp sense of humour. You couldn’t miss it.
An interesting friendship developed in which we didn’t ever really talk about the past, but mostly about what was then the present. I suppose that present was so full of things happening, it was all we had time for. The result is that even now, after 7 years we find out things about each other that we never knew. Now I am sitting here in a brand new present, thinking of all the Bev-stories I could tell and trying to decide which I should tell. The truth is, there are too many, and I can’t choose.
There is the funny one about the dagga plant we accidentally grew many years ago. The ice-cream on the roof. The vodka-lollies while walking the dirt-roads of Fourways. The day of the eleventy-seven half beers in Edenvale, and the day Bev got into trouble for not telling someone the coals were ready to start braaiing. Christmas in July, New Year’s with Schnotka, Mystery Box practice sessions for Masterchef, and… well, this could go on for very long.
For now, as the yin-yang world we live in would have it, I am the dark voice on this blog, but I don’t have any dark stories about Bev. Many, many funny ones, yes! She is that friend I can always count on for silliness. That one adventurous friend who can tell you very seriously, on the way to a wine festival with 17 participating wine estates:
“I worked out we can realistically get to 7 wine farms today, so let’s try for 16.”
She is the one that doesn’t blink an eye before lying down in a meadow to get the perfect picture of a flower the size of a 10c coin. She will make the craziest plans with you and follow through on them.
Bev makes me cry with laughter, and she cries for me and with me when I fall apart. Then there was that one time when she could just hold me while I cried because when pain gets too intense, even your best friends don’t have words, but they are still there. Bev is pure light, even in her own darkest times. That is why I can be completely broken, shaking with the pain of betrayal and loss and dark beyond measure inside myself. Those days when I am just hiding from the world in my shack, not wanting to see anyone, I can still go out and spend a day with Bev, falling out of a car laughing.
Since Jo’burg we have both left behind the partners we had at that time, and inevitably little parts of who we used to be. Somehow we have managed, more than once, to glue our hearts back together after life happened, and we came out better at the other end. Even if I have to say so myself, we were already pretty awesome to begin with, so you should see us now! But I promised only to brag about cooking so let me stop.
I moved to the Cape first, and Bev says she knew she would see me in Cape Town soon after. A year later she self-fulfilled her prophecy. And yes Bev, that is as spiritual a statement as I am ever going to make. *Purses lips and frowns.* So here we are. There are some four hundred and fifty wine farms in the Cape. That leaves a lot of room for silliness and we are on a roll!! That, to me, is a spiritual quest!
I visit psychics… it keeps me sane and it’s cheaper than conventional therapy. Also – I don’t have to look too closely at my shadow self. When I tell Analize about my latest psychic visit she pulls this face. It’s a face that says “you are a gullible idiot and I’m right now questioning your ability to think in an intelligent way”. Of course she would be saying that quietly in her head so it would be in Afrikaans and I wouldn’t understand her if she blurted it out anyway… but that look. I know that look. The tilted head and the pursed lips and the frowny brow. But also the laughing eyes. So I know with Analize that I can be who I am and say what I say and believe what I do and she will accept it and me with a pinch of salt. She makes this amazing merlot salt btw which I cook with all of the time now. So you see, she goes the extra mile to be one of my bestest besties.
I believe in guides and ancestors and animal spirits and a world beyond this world. It drives me nuts not knowing everything about the universe and the Universe (there’s that look again… I see it my friend) and so I go to psychics to try to find the elusive wormhole into a world that surely would make more sense to me. I’ve started telling people that I’m an alien and I have an elaborate explanation of “proof” to back it up (I will explain in a follow up blog), but while I’m abandoned by my peeps to live on this Earth, I filter everything through the lens of irony. Which is why I need friends like Analize. Because what’s the point of going through life crying with laughter if you’re crying alone. It’s like that saying about the tree falling in the forest and did it really happen? Such confusion! So Analize is my witness to, and very often the reason for, my uncontrollable mirth at the ridiculousness of life on Earth. I mean – Donald Trump is the president of the USA. Wow! Bush to Obama to Trump. America has a bad case of bigot schizophrenia. At least here in Africa we are solidly consistent – Zuma, Zuma and.. you know it… Zuma. But I digress…
Where was I? Oh yes… So Analize and I have been through hell (that look again) together. It’s hard on both sides of that fence. And sometimes it’s touch and go but neither of us has the luxury of checking out. There was a time years ago when I dropped 10kgs watching my father fade away from cancer, all the while dealing with an emotionally abusive partner, and Analize was there holding me strong every stumbling step of the way. Then it was my turn to watch her heart break and then her turn and then my turn and then…yet through it all we have memories of laughing until it hurts. I don’t really know why, but we seem to be eternal optimists and we have discovered (we’re brilliant that way) this odd phenomenon of the essence of life being magnified somehow by the glass that holds a really good wine. And so we seek out the experience often. And because we’re narcissists and queens of hyperbole… we have decided to share this crazy, crazy journey with you. So climb aboard and hold onto your Jason Mraz hat!
(PS You may learn a whole new language called PQ.)
“Darkness is not the opposite of Light. It is simply the Absence of Light” – Terry Pratchett.
Trauma changes you forever. You may heal and find the light again, but you will never be the same person you used to be. The imminent possibility of death is so dark, and in another way so light, you will for ever after see the light in a different way. It becomes confusing to distinguish between darkness and light.
It changes how you see life, and once you have longed for death, life has completely changed who you are. The strangest thing is that the thought of death can be the only thing keeping you alive.
I don’t mean to be cryptic, so I make these statements in a very general way. People who have known darkness will not need to hear my individual story to understand. I may write about it at a later point, or not. For now it is still too raw. Those memories and feelings need to stew and become tender and we all know that is a long slow process.
For about a month after trauma struck, I could not go anywhere. I hid in my cave. I was shattered inside and I could not even talk to anyone. Bev is one of my handful of best friends. She is one of the people who is dragging me through this time of my life where the darkness threatens to overwhelm the light. When I finally called her and proclaimed that I needed help, she came over. I still did not want to talk. I couldn’t, or thought I couldn’t. She understood without a word.
We decided to go wine tasting, just to get out. It was a sunny day and we went to a wine farm just about up the road from where I live. The world still existed, which came as a bit of a shock and a surprise. I remarked on the fact that we had never gone wine tasting together, and we were amazed at this fact. We drove down a dirt road lined with beautiful, big pine trees and Bev got excited about all the pinecones lying around. Winter was coming and with it, fireplace season!
We reached the wine farm and followed the signs to the tasting room. It looked very quiet, but there was one car in the parking lot, and an open door upstairs. We went to inspect. I tried the knob of the big wooden door… The next moment the alarm started blaring, and like naughty kids we just ran away, laughing.
Back on the road, we stopped and collected a bag full of pinecones, and drove off again. Bev saw another, very pretty, large-with-extraordinary-firestarter-potential pinecone that she simply had to have, and she said she was going to stop next to it, and I had to grab it. I loosened my seat belt, opened the car door and leaned out to snatch up the prize pinecone. Nope, too far away. I leaned over further… and fell out of the car.
I managed to break my fall, with my arm extended, and at the same time grabbed the now super-amazing pinecone. I pushed myself back up, and in one fluid, elegant movement (that’s my story and I am sticking to it) I grabbed Bev’s outstretched hand and I was back in the car.
We giggled all the way to the next wine farm, recounting the story. Bev decided James Bond could not grab pinecones the way we could, and a new phrase was coined: 007 Pineconing.
And there was light.