I was feeling somewhat stoic about the upcoming tour our family is going to be doing in May to South Africa. Recently I've been having a lot of 'emigre blues' because I've been sorting through tons of photos that I previously saved to disks before I left Joburg in 2012. But when I actually stop and think about it, I'm only getting a hunkering for the 'holiday' destinations in SA, not for the life style or constant day-to-day existence type stress we were under.
And so does that mean that we don't have stress here?
Of course not. The main difference is they are 'manageable' stresses that we are encountering in the UK at the moment. So much of South African life was spent chasing the buck and watching your back, making sure you were safe (priority number one most of the time), constantly aware that you could be the 'next statistic'. Vigilance in the face of continuous opportunistic crime does a lot to a person - it makes you very suspicious of any type of social freedom.
It's taken me a very long time (well we're into our fourth year in Blightey) to appreciate the freedom of movement people have in the UK. Yes, there is crime here, I'm not daft, but it's not 'in your face' - at least not in rural South Norfolk. I suppose I'm somewhat used to being able to drive to the local shops at any time of the day or night and not worry too much if I forgot to lock my car, or even that I'm driving down a deserted country lane all by myself. We have taken to walking around our neighbourhood for exercise late at night, just two women, or two women and a child, never giving a thought to our safety because you don't have to. That was never the case in SA.
I guess what I'm trying to work out here is that I might be feeling a bit apprehensive about going back to that getto mentality prevalent in South Africa almost everywhere. I've started to relax here in the UK and not be on constant alert, I like it! I like not having to always be locking the doors, closing windows, listening for the dog, making sure the car's locked in the driveway. So I'm a bit worried that I might be a sitting duck target when I go back to SA. Or will that sense of being always en garde return as soon as I step off the plane at OR Tambo?