Archive for the Not-So-Foreign Cities Category

… under the bridge.

Posted in Not-So-Foreign Cities on July 8, 2008 by moderngatsby

If Madonna and JT lived in Cape Town, and their watches were set to African Time, their 4-minutes would be more like 4-hours. And instead of saving the world they would be witness to one crumbling down around them. I can testify that in the space of 4-hours I embraced my hangover from the night before and decided that it was time to head back to Jo’burg a week earlier than anticipated. After a watershed collection of new contracts and advertisers, the sourness at the back of my throat wasn’t the bile from the night before (… yes sacrificing at the Bowl of Bacchus after a heavy night drinking!) but the petulant behaviour of an adult used to being the centre of attention.

And while it wasn’t worth losing a friend over, somewhere inside I realised that this is the change of the friendship anyway. Over the past few months I have seen his manoeuvrings and slowly her circle of friends is being replaced with his own equally spoiled dilatants. A closed circle who bolster his ego rather than support her needs as an individual. But in life we all make choices necessary to our circumstances and could never begrudge her changing priorities. I have adjusted my expectations accordingly and realise where our two roads were once similar, have now diverged in the Tokai forest. But, as I sat on the plane going home the same emotion I had for Cape Town has imperceptibly changed.

Perhaps that change is my own making as well? The restlessness that has been pervasive over the past few months has shifted to a sense of living on borrowed time. What that exactly means I’m unsure but it’s there … that any minute the piper is going to ask for his dues and I have not enough to pay him. I felt this as I lay in the arms of a software engineer after meeting at his offices’ drinks party a few hours before. While he was everything that I was looking for that night I couldn’t really find any pleasure in his sensuality. We lay there, talking about nothing and everything, just the timbre of his voice was enough to lull me into a deep sleep that lasted until just after nine the next morning.

As I stood in the shower, the hot water felt like Niagara Falls on my shoulders. Fair enough my gentle giant had spent a good few minutes massaging my neck in the shower before getting out to make us breakfast leaving me feeling lighter than I had felt in a long while. As I stood there I got to thinking how they say that opposites attract but they never say for how long. Should the relationship savvy person still stoke the fires of passion with the kindling of work and friends or should we simply be satisfied with a romance that sizzles? As I got into the waiting car I couldn’t help but wonder without sharing your worlds can even the hottest relationship stop cold?

But as soon as I landed my own reality came back to me and I was acutely aware that now is the time to act if I want this feeling to go away. I have a sense of where I want to be and so I find myself in transition again building on ruins of the past, except this time the foundations are more solid than mere words or promises that evaporate like the dew at the dawn. I’ve realised that in coming home to the middle of a Highveld winter, the warmest place is where there are people who love you. And while some love is enough, there is a certain kind that only a lover can give, and you can take. So like the blooms on a cherry tree, I am patient for that moment where I know Persepolis will be mine.


… the latest dictionary and today’s who’s who.

Posted in Not-So-Foreign Cities on April 29, 2008 by moderngatsby

 They say, ‘you can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket’ so I found myself against my better judgement agreeing to meet up with a friend’s friend who was in town on business for drinks at a certain bar in the Melrose. Pleasant conversation turned to dinner upstairs where we mostly chatted about people we both had in common and I think he was hoping that the dim-sum he ordered would turn into then-some later on back at his hotel conveniently situated across the square. It had been ages since I’d had this much fun without a carton of ice-cream, some form of liqueur and my DSTV remote. But as Nelly once sang, all good things must come to an end. And they did.


While the idea of expiration dating usually appeals to me, tonight there was an emptiness that pervaded the darkness as I sat on my former ridge overlooking the city. With the air crisp and the full moon high overhead the Shakespearian undercurrent was electric and I felt the magic that comes with nights like these. Haunted by an inability to let go when I know I should, it’s more than a feeling you feel driving past a stranger, a lingering smile on his face as I leave in the morning, or the most haunting of all: letting someone go who is no longer there. Whether it was their decision or mine sometimes it sometimes just feels unfinished. Like there’s something more to come. But isn’t.


As I sipped my coffee, thoughts swirling about me, I got to thinking about relationships and partial-lobotomies. Two seemingly different ideas that might just be perfect together like chocolate and peanut butter. Think how much easier it would all be if there was some swift surgical procedure to whisk away all the ugly memories and mistakes and leave only the fun trips and special moments. But until that day arrives what to do? Rely on the same old needle point philosophy of ‘forgive and forget’? And even if two people can manage the forgiveness, has any ever conquered the forgetness? When it comes to past relationships I had to ask myself if you can really ever forgive if you can’t forget?


Sexual souvenirs like a sweat-shirt or book or even snap shots can remind us of the past long after the memory does but with him no longer in your life the meaning once placed on it is gone. But what makes us forget certain people quicker than others? It took me 2yrs to let go of the Squirrel despite a sprinkling of relationships in between while he had managed to move on relatively quickly to someone else. Am I kidding myself to think that he didn’t have any residual wants or is that ego? Now I can look at him, in the flesh or online, and feel nothing like the way I used to. So maybe time is what we need to get over someone or something? And learn to live with a lessening pain as we live the lesson learned.


But in compiling anecdotal evidence of almost a decade past for a reacquainted soul mate, a single line describing each person, place and permanent scar reminds you that the heart heals over time, and that sometimes things don’t work out for a reason. After all, if you spent your whole life with someone you didn’t love, or didn’t love you, you’d never get to meet that handsome line engineer with amber coloured eyes who works for the national carrier on his way to Cape Town for training. As he says to you just after beverage service ‘I don’t mean to be forward – but you’re fucking cute!’ you know then and there its going to be a fun night even if your return ticket at the end of the weekend is the expiry date of this love affair.

… if you reach the end of the earth you’ve gone too far.

Posted in Confession, Not-So-Foreign Cities, Passion with tags on October 19, 2007 by moderngatsby

As we left the boerewors curtain and headed out into deep cattle country of the Vaal Triangle, I have come to accept that the changes in my life are perhaps for the best, but as yet unrealised. I was off for 3-dys training on our most advanced CNC Milling and Turning machines as well as for a crash-course of the software management necessary for operating these kinds of machines. Leaving before dawn I witnessed something that I haven’t seen for a long, long time. The dawn rising like a melting ice-cream on a hot summer’s day as you stroll from Sea-Point to Green Point.


Vanderbijl Park is like a quant European country that you visit as a stop-over between the big tourist cities. The music is 10-yrs behind, people still smoke in restaurants and offices, and life is uncomplicated by things like iPod-envy or café-fatigue. Having arrived just as people were setting up their tools for the start of a full-day shift at our supplier’s premises I was like a fish out of water. Here men are men, the women have moustaches like their Dad’s and the kids don’t wear shoes to school. As far as a novelty holiday goes – I loved it. The question would neither be foam or cream – but what is a cappuccino?

With expectations such as these you can imagine my surprise that even the most hard-core of employees were not only courteous but went out of their way to help us in every possible way. While not the chivalrous gentleman that every girl, or guy, dreams of the basics were there and as every person worth their salt knows you can work with less to have more. But is this an environment that I could adapt to and even thrive within? You hear of people selling everything up after a lifetime of success and finding meaning in something foreign. But no baristas’ in a 50Km radius … hmmm …?

As the day progressed, I found myself sitting in the mild-spring sun eating my hamburger slightly enticed by one of the Brahman studs that sat next to me. I started to think about that eternal quest of ‘happily ever after’. As progressive as our society claims to be there are still certain life targets we are all supposed to hit: marriage, babies and a home to call your own. But what if instead of breaking out in a smile you break out in a rash at the thought of never achieving the impractical? Is something wrong with the system or with you? And do we really want these things or are we just programmed?

I blame Ogilvy and his ad for the Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce. They created the aspiration that wanting something more was okay. And while my capitalistic pursuit leaves me in marketing envy of a certain whore/genius who leveraged her amateur home made sex-tape with an ex into a big-budget horror flick, a self-titled perfume deal, and a reality TV show on Fox Network that was big in Japan. After all when you’re big in Japan you can make it anywhere as a brand. With apparently very little experience she has become a mini-economy and every plastic/porno-production gay’s hero.

But I guess it is the same with all recovering addicts – when you know better you try and do better. Whatever the previous vice, shedding it makes you a staunch advocate against it. So like Bono trying to get debt in third-world countries erased that is my new raison d’être – erase my burgeoning self-debt. Because when you think about it material consumption for the sake of cavalier amusement is becoming a dangerous thing. With a growing middle-class desperate to break in rather than stand out places like 24-Central, 44 Stanley Str. And the bistros and café’s in Parkhurst are perceived to be exclusive.

And from one extreme to the other: sushi with my editor, polo-gossip-pimp, and all round friend. It was a long overdue conversation about our converging interests and diverging aspirations. They say that nothing is certain in life – only death and taxes – but one thing is for sure: I always have a great time with her. Whether it’s drinking in some marquee while watching a boring game, falling from polo-ponies in some rural backwater, or understanding that we do what we go because we can. And because we’re good at it.

Everything else is choice.

… easy come, easy go.

Posted in Lyrics - Rihanna, Not-So-Foreign Cities on October 7, 2007 by moderngatsby

Goes from 0-to-60 in three-point-five. Baby you got the keys …” sang the song on the radio as I eased my car into the early Saturday afternoon traffic of the N1 south and headed back towards my city. “… now shut and drive” I sang back at the top of my voice in the empty car. Then suddenly the mood overcame me and I cranked the volume higher; put my foot down on the accelerator and took the light-hearted lyrics to heart. Today was not a day for seriousness. Today was a day of new discoveries. 

I had just finished breakfast with a recently published author of a truly thought-provoking book that had gripped me this past week. It was one of those grown-up conversations that kinda confirms everything you’ve thought all along but wasn’t quite sure if that was a voice of reason or paranoia. As we walked towards the exit and said our good-byes we both promised to keep in touch which is something that I’m looking forward to. Time will tell but I have a feeling that it will be around for a while yet. 

And from a new friend to an old one with a less certain view of the world around him. At lunch yesterday I realised every time we meet we end up debating whether or not he will eventually propose to his long time – and long suffering I might add – girlfriend. To be honest she’s everything you could want in a potential partner: beautiful, intelligent, has a good job that requires frequent overseas travel guaranteeing a steady supply of Sprüngli and knows how to make a mean minestrone soup and proper German sour-dough bread. This is a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. The problem comes in when you can’t reconcile the ‘what-if’ with the ‘right now’. That age old question of settling down versus pleasurable torments and distractions that every bar, restaurant or Camps Bay hotel holds for us and the exhilaration of a beating heart.

It was then that I had to raise a question that I had recently heard and resonated somewhere inside of me. “If you don’t propose and she leaves, sure you could find someone else and lead a different life, but will you look back someday and regret it? “Yes” was his quick reply. And with that we turned in momentary silence to our penne-bolognaise, chopped chilli and sweep basil pesto and personal thoughts. 

In life it’s a pretty common belief that women tend to use the left or more emotional side of their brain and men the right more logical side. But is it really that cut and dry? It seems that when it comes to affairs of the heart there’s a battle between what we know and what we feel. So what do you do when you find yourself in a situation that leaps back and forth between the left and right side? It was then that I had to ask myself: when it comes to relationships, is it smarter to follow your heart or your head? 

When I think back on the many missed opportunities my few failed relationships presented in hindsight I realise that the majority were emotionally charged. In a false-sense of bravado you mask the real reason why your last relationship failed by blaming a 3rd person that had made it a little crowded but the reality was the fear of intimacy that a opening up your heart yet again brings and the change that comes as a result. The insecurities feed the fear and a downward spiral of self-doubt and cynicism consumes you and leads you down a road towards break-up. But in knowing better you ultimately strive to do better the next time around.

Because every step you take forward, guided by your romantic heart or your cautious head, you find yourself one step closer to that seemingly elusive person that will love you unconditionally. And that has got to be worth waiting around for isn’t it?