Well, I guess I’m not 30 yet, but I will be in a year, one month and three days, and it’s way sexier for a headline than the lukewarm age of 29.
But seriously, how do you make friends at the age of 29, in a new and vibrant city? I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who has a lot of friends. I have some, and they are the ones who I’ll take into my confidence without hesitation, signal them on Whatsapp using the designation “Holla Biznitch” and who will hunt down a taxi for me as they hold my hair back while I vomit all over Long Street (Thanks Kim and Luisa).
Well, Long Street no more I suppose, since my recent (and I mean oh-so-recent, three weeks and counting) what feels like immigration from the Mother City to The Big Smoke (also fondly known as Johazzardburg, the City of Gold, and “Oh dear God why did I ever leave Cape Town?”).
I didn’t, and still don’t, want to post on Facebook that I’ve left Cape Town, even though I know a lot of cool people who have moved from there to Joburg, who I know would be so warm and welcoming to me. The reason I don’t want to put it on Facebook (so I’ll just post it on my blog here for my one regular reader, thanks Darrel) is not because of the people who live in Joburg, but rather, the people who live in Cape Town.
The negative reactions I got from Capetonians was really just plain hurtful, and it was usually strangers (one close friend said she’d rather move to Australia, which made me feel great about the decision). I mentioned it to a woman at a wine farm in Tulbagh (my husband and I decided that Joburg wouldn’t have amazing wine-which it does-and that we needed to stock up before we left, which we did) and her reflex reaction was “Ag shame, but why?”I also made the mistake of telling an electrician doing some work in my house (a born-and-bred Capetonian who had literally never lived outside of the Southern Suburbs) and his five minute poisonous vitriol about how one could never live anywhere else when one had lived in Cape Town (note the irony) was gross enough to make me not want to pay him.
Back to the subject at hand. I don’t want to notify the universe that my postal code has changed via social media. So I’ve reached out to some people that I know from varsity and whom I haven’t seen in years, and I’ve had a pretty positive response. But everyone is working, and I am not, so while I know people, most have been here for several years already, and have integrated themselves into friendship groups with colleagues and school mates.
Which leaves me alone, exploring the leafy suburbs of this urban jungle on my ace. And I don’t mind doing this usually, except that, being more introverted than extroverted, I’m quite happy to be alone. I’m happy to walk about the streets of Linden alone (I did that today) and get lost in Rosebank (also today) and walk myself around the Botanical Gardens (last week). But when I discover a cool Joburg event, like Wine-Not (the last Friday of every month) I don’t have a group of girlfriends I can rally around to go drinking with me. I’m painfully shy in that way, and I hate inconveniencing other people. More than anything, I hate being told “no” or having to make awkward small talk.
How do I get better at this? Step 1: is to get a good job (please Lord) with a crowd of relatively young-and-funky people who can unlock the secrets of Joboogy for me. Step 2: Find someone who’s quite chatty (so I don’t have to make small talk) and cling to their legs until they accept the fact that we’re friends and I’m always going to be asking them to hang out with me. Step 3: Hope that Jesus made some people who are as equally strange as I am, and pray that they will be drawn to my strangeness (some would say “quirkiness”) like a piece of buttered toast is drawn to the floor (clean side down).
So Joburg, here I am, waiting for things to start falling into place so that I can prove all those nasty Capetonians wrong about you. Show me what you got.