I was born in Paarl and before moving to the place I call my hometown, at the age of 3, I lived in Wellington and Malmesbury.
Hometown = Stellenbosch
My parents are from other towns – Dad in the Cape Winelands, Mom from the Garden Route. Stellenbosch was new to all of us when we moved here. Both my brothers were born after we moved here. What can I remember … nothing. I think my memories started around the age of 4 or 5 when my middle brother was born. I went to 2 crèches here, 2 primary schools, 2 high schools and incomplete university after which I went to complete my studies in Cape Town.
Stellenbosch. I love this place. This is where I grew up. This is where I was influenced. This is where I was judged, laughed at, made friends, loved, lost, experienced death first, experienced discrimination first and also where I decided what stance I would take in this world where I learnt that I am not only judged by the colour of my skin but also by my status as an incomer, my hair texture, the food that we ate at home, the way I spoke English, the way I spoke Afrikaans, the way I blended in and not blended in … the list … it was also where I decided what is important to me and what and who I will take with me and who I will let go of.
Lessons learnt. Many. Friends made – not the most but enough. Don’t have many left in Stellenbosch, but that’s okay. I have many. I love the place. I love the people. Each person here helped me grow whether the relationship was great or bleh.
When I left Stellenbosch I was grateful and happy. It was a weight off my shoulders. Expectation always followed me because of my parents and broader family – in education, in church, in … well, wherever my family does something. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I had to leave to appreciate the eccentricities of this town that I love so much. The town where the mountains have made me love mountains so much that not even the bay in Port Elizabeth was enough when I lived there. I need a mountain close by … I love these mountains so much that when I was walking around in Dubai I hoped that a mountain mirage would somehow appear just so I can see a mountain.
Seasons in Stellenbosch are such a treat. The sunsets in summer. The trees in all seasons. The wind, the rain, the colour of the sky. The way the mountains change from guardians to scary giants depending on the seasons. And how a grey sky changes the atmosphere and the beauty of the buildings and the mountains, the trees and the energy.
The town where I cycled to clarinet lessons at the Conservatorium and cycled to school in all seasons. I walked to class, cycled to class, drove to class (and on a few occasions forgot that I used transport to class, walked home only to remember somewhere between halfway back home or at home that I either cycled or drove to campus). Yes, laugh at me. My friends and cousins did. Of course I had to walk back to go get the bicycle or the car to the amusement of whoever was around when I realised! A lift would be offered IF I was lucky.
First kiss, first boyfriend, campus crushes, campus parties, student things, first alcoholic drink, many fail(s), many falls, loads of laughs, lots of learning, lots of life, many friends, loads of music, lots of drama … life, love and laughter happened! Singing, dancing, smiling too.
This place is my heart … no matter where I go or what I do it will always remain My Stellenbosch and My Mountains like giant guardians enfolding me to protect me. A place where I inhale deeply and exhale completely. Where I’ve been hurt and loved and through hurt felt love.
Today my town is grey. A beautiful, wet grey. Washed. Water falling from the sky.
Stellenbosch in the rain.
This is where I live.