Bright lights, big city

A little less than a year ago I wrote a post about how much I love Durban and how very little could convince me to move away from the best city in the world. It’s funny how much can change in the space of a year.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think Durban is by far the loveliest place a person could hope to live. But there comes a time in a girl’s life when she has to take a leap of faith, or resign herself to an incredibly stagnant career. It started to occur to me a while ago that no matter how happy you are in every other aspect of your life, the fact is that if you’re miserable at work, you’re spending a lot of time being unhappy – after all, we spend so much more time at work than doing anything else. It’s not that I worked for some terrible organisation – on the contrary, they have a wonderful ethos and some great people on the team. But I was doing admin work and I could feel my brain slowly turning to mush with every day that passed. For someone else it may have been a great job but for me it was torture.

Still, it took me a long time to admit that if I was going to do something I love – writing – it would mean giving up something I love – Durban. The sad fact is that it’s not easy to find writing work in my hometown. I probably could have looked for work in Cape Town but I’m not the biggest fan of the Mother City (sshh, don’t tell) and since I figured I would need the support of the friends I have in Jo’burg to make a move of this magnitude, that’s where I decided to look. For ages I was really non-committal and half-hearted about the whole affair, and even though I applied for a few jobs, I was always secretly relieved when I didn’t get them. But something clicked over at the beginning of this year and I just decided that 2011 was going to be the year I got a job doing what I love, even if it meant moving away, or I was going to give up on the whole thing and let my brain just atrophy.

By the end of January I had a job and four weeks to plan a move to Jo’burg. Eek. Please don’t start spouting The Secret-speak about putting stuff out into the Universe because I will have to hurt you. It was just a matter of the right job coming along at the right time, and me actually making a commitment to being prepared to move. Life’s funny like that.
Four weeks is a really, really short space of time when you have to pack up your life and move to a new city. Logistics aside, saying goodbye to the people who have made up your urban family, some of them for more than half your life, is an incredibly hard thing to do, even when you know you’ll only be a quick low-cost airline flight away. I know I had my ‘deer in the headlights’ face on for the whole of February, and in fact, even though I’ve been in Jo’burg for a month now, I think it’s still there.

It’s a weird adjustment to make. The drive up here was incredibly surreal. I literally just got in my car at 6am on a Monday morning and started driving – my poor little mushy brain couldn’t quite wrap itself around the fact that I was moving so only when I hit the (not so pretty) outskirts of Jo’burg did reality start to sink in. And it was hard. I was miserable for the first few weeks, and only now is it starting to get (a bit) easier. I miss my city and I miss my people. But luckily I have some awesome people in Jo’burg too, who make it bearable, better than bearable in fact. And no matter how hard it is, I know it was the right thing to do. I’m loving writing all the time and actually having to think at work for a change. I’m starting to find my way around and I don’t even have to rely on my good friend Tom (last name also Tom) for directions all the time. There are lots of gigs to go to and new restaurants and places to explore. Am I over my homesickness – well no, I think I’ll always miss Durbs. But it gets a little easier every day (and of course I’m already planning visits!). And for the record, the Sharks will always be my team.


  1. Carole Caetano

    April 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Home is where your heart is, and once your heart is settled in a place it is very hard to change that feeling.
    As a Cancerian you love your home Bel, and I know you will make any new place you live in a place that you will love to come home to each day. Life is a huge adventure, sometimes good and sometimes bad, most often safely inbetween! Enjoy this adventure, make your mark and just be you.

  2. Eish I know the feeling oh too well. I moved up in November ’99 and I gotta admit it took about 3 months for me to call Jozi home. Some people it takes about 6 months to make it home and I still enjoy flying down to Durbs to visit family.

    We should meet up for some coffee sometime, its been like years since I last saw you. Dare I say I saw you last at The Monks Inn? That would be crazy!

  3. Bel

    August 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

    It probably was at Monks! We should definitely do coffee…the Durban exiles have to stick together 🙂

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