I’m going for my daily walk from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay, taking in the ocean, waves breaking on rocks, surfers gliding into shore, sun beating on the back of my neck. I think I dreamed that I lived in New York once, that I used to run around Central Park, walk the streets of Manhattan. It’s funny how with time, even hard moments can become sweet memories, filed away, somewhere in between here and there.
What if I’d never left? What if I had missed this experience? Hot tears fall from behind my sunglasses, guarding my emotion from bypassers, workers on the side of the street. Could it be possible I was so afraid to leave? So afraid of leaving my friends and the comfort of my home, afraid of being alone?
I can’t imagine my life without this experience. I had to be here, where else would I be? How foolish my fears seem now. My life here couldn’t be fuller. I’ve pulled more all nighters here than I did in the last 3 years of my twenties. I’ve fallen in love, thrown axes, climbed mountains, gotten hurt (fluid drained from my knee – gross), laughed until I cried, taught yoga on a cement playground scattered with glass, got licked by a giraffe, saw a shark, sunbathed on a beach surrounded by African penguins (pretty sure one tried to mate with me too), and learned precious lessons about culture and history – the reality of peoples struggles.
I’ve made countless friends in South Africa, and I’ve been anything but lonely. What if I had missed it? I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I came here. I’m not running away, I’m running into the world, into new experiences. Travel has completely changed my life.
Perhaps my experience in Cape Town will not be again as it is in this moment. Perhaps I’ll never again see the people I’ve met here. I’m not melancholy, but overwhelmed at the beautiful moments I’ve had. Even in the hard times when I’ve questioned what I’m doing here, sad times, uncomfortable moments, I wouldn’t want to have missed the experience.