What is home? What constitutes that feeling of complete groundedness and belonging?
Home is not a place. It's not where you lay your head. It's a feeling. There isn't a city or town in this country I don't feel at home in. There was a time I hated Johannesburg. And I learned to love it. I fell in love overnight.
The morning after the night before saw me participate in the Men's Health Urbanathlon back in 2010. It was a 13km run/obstacle course that took us through Sandton. It was a perfect morning. Clear skies, bright sunshine, I think the temperature must've gotten up to 28 by 8am.
I headed back to my guest house in Illovo, and after a long, drawn-out soak in the tub and a hot, steamy shower to rinse off after, I was drying myself when I thought I heard someone moving furniture across the wooden floors in the room above mine. Turns out it was thunder.
Moments later, rain was pelting down, lightning was crashing all around, car alarms were going off, dogs were barking. The thunderstorm lasted about 25 minutes. The whole time, I stood there, naked but for the towel around my waist, door still wide open onto the lush garden just beyond the rough-hewn stone pathway, gushes of water off the roof, hitting the still-warm ground creating a magical bed of steam enveloping the agapanthus and clivia. And then it was gone. Silence. No traffic noise, no dogs, no alarms, no thunder, no rain. Just the soft trickles of water finding their way back into the earth. The air was clean. There was peace. It was majestic.
Durban became home for me in much the same way Joburg did. It was almost an overnight experience as a result of a culmination of events. And that's when it hit me: home is that feeling. It's the culmination of events the result of which will always be greater than the sum of its parts.
Cape Town is my home. Always has been. But that true feeling of belonging, of collective memory, of shared moments lost to time but eternally satisfying, that true sense of foundation, of grounding doesn't come from a physical location.
It's that moment her hand seeks yours out and finds it. That moment just after your lips part after a kiss goodbye. That hug that says "everything is going to be alright". It's being in the same crowded room, apart and not even having to look at each other to know what's going on in the other's head. It can happen anywhere. It is by no means tied down to a place.
That's when you know you're home.