… people like us.

While not quite caught between the moon and New York City I do find myself caught between what I know and what I’m afraid to admit to those around me in my new surroundings. In stripping away the layers of pretence that had somehow built up over the years, either through self-delusion or unrealistic expectations, I promised myself that in starting over I would start off with a clean slate. I would be me … honest about who he is and what he wants. Authentic is a word that has been banded about of late and expect it to be bastardised by the masses searching for a new raison d’être. But it seems to fit so well when everything else is either too tight or shabby-baggy.

But that is easier said than done I have discovered when dealing with a survivalist mind-set that perhaps will not, rather than cannot, relate to something outside their frame-of-reference. A sense of smugness creeps into their voices as they change their posture to a caricature of a puffed up dove, often inserting their thumbs into the loops of their belt to emphasise their point, and pontificate about the frivolity of those that habitat the tree lined suburbs of Northern Johannesburg. Why pay R150 for a chocolate cake from Anica’s Deli when Woollies also has one just as good for R50?

While the part of me now living to a budget would agree with the latter the aesthetic inside would gladly pay the former. But who is right? Should I be judged for my own choices just because they don’t conform to something valued by someone else and if so doesn’t it speak to their own prejudice rather than my silliness? The uneasy feeling festered for a few days and eventually came to a head a week later as I sat down to lunch with two relative strangers in familiar surroundings of a downtown dinning room. A members-only club with a legacy that spans 120-yrs and is the elitist tie that threads us together.

I find myself trying to fit in to my new surroundings when really I was born to stand apart. And for feeling bad when I don’t conform to their standards whatever they are. Perhaps it’s just me but I can remember a time when we were young and Marlow Thomas sang to us about accepting each other and our differences. But then we got older and started singing a different tune. We stopped celebrating each others’ life choices and started qualifying them. Is acceptance really such a childish concept? Or did we have it right all along … when did we stop being free to be you and me?

A few days later I found myself sitting at a favourite barista in Parktown North leisurely reading the weekend edition of a certain pale pink newspaper, sipping my coffee slowly and every now and again breaking off chunks of my chocolate and hazelnut muffin to pop into my mouth. As I sat there I realised that I may have had to move a little further away to get nearer to who I need to be but there isn’t a reason that I can’t ever not accept who I am even if others can’t or wont. Think about it … a coffee and muffin: R38; weekend newspaper and magazine: R138; the feeling that you belong: priceless.

 

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