I cannot for the life of me remember what the catalyst was, but last night I wanted to show Miss13 the house where I grew up. On the street in suburbia Johannesburg. She told me she would load up Google Earth and that we would go on a virtual walk. I thought, yeah right.
When she asked me about the big swimming pool and what it was I died a little. That swimming pool was known as the Sydenham Swimming Pool. And anyone within a twenty to thirty block radius will tell you that they grew up there. Literally. That swimming pool parented us from September until March. Every year. As a “lighty” (South African for young person) my Oupa would give us Five Rand on 1st September and we would go and get our “season tickets” which entitled us to unlimited entry for the duration of the summer. My mother would waterproof it in a ziplock bag.
Digressing. We walked down the Google Earth road, I told Miss13 how the wall around the pool was exactly the same. We crossed 12th Avenue. I identified my house because the house next door still looks the same. Mine, they clearly razed to the ground and started again. It was rather old. The toilet door had a cut out hole because when the toilet seat was replaced it was too big and the door wouldn’t open – so my dad cut a hole in it – as you do. In those days it was always a simple solution to fix a simple problem.
The beautiful enormous trees on the outside were still there. (They cost my parents a bomb in plumbing because the roots were always interfering with the sewage pipes ).
The memories. A massive garden where various trails were set up for rollerskating (my dearest Tanya and Renay lost many a knee on a pair of pants on that course) and BMX riding – we were bandits long before the movie.
And not to forget part of our garden – once a grass tennis court that served as the official cricket pitch for the neighbourhood. Hosting many games and proving long before it was popular that a girl could bat the shit out of a cricket ball.
And the monkey swing (I operated that thing like a pro) and the cubby house that held many a tea party and served as a lock up for the least popular neighbourhood boy when we needed a victim. I hope that in some universe Marco forgives us.
And the veranda that hosted many a birthday party with music blaring out of a ghetto blaster while we tried to body pass oranges to each other.
The Artist too took a trip down memory lane. This is his house.
He wants to know where the decorative mermaid that used to live on the front of the house is. I guess there is no accounting for taste. I hope that Mermaid is resting safely somewhere in the Kitsch Graveyard in the Sky.
It’s quite something to come to terms with the fact that, as an immigrant, you can’t swing round the corner and show your kids where you used to live. The park you used to play in. Where you went to school. Where you had the best times.
A million blessings to Google Earth. You’ve seriously rocked my world this week.
To wrap it up, I showed her where she spent the first four months of her life before we tore up roots and left.
The memories are starting to flood – perhaps it’s the approach of the 2 x 7 year itch. September marks 14 years in Sydney. 14 Good Years. But you never forget where you’ve come from.
Love and light.