Holiday snaps #3: In the middle of nowhere

The last time I ate in a Spur was in 2003. It was in Fordsburg, it was a group-thing with the folk from the dojo (The Islander was visiting from NYC and I was invited because he was staying with me, otherwise it would have been a black-belt-thing only) and I did now know that the Spur in Fordsburg did not serve beer. It was a bit embarrassing.

Right now I am settled in with a Spur cheeseburger, some wine and the cricket on a huge screen on my left. At the table in front of me two young okes have just downed what I assume are their first shooters and ordered their second round of beers. I suspect they are drowning their sense of impending doom, as the English are fast catching up to our first innings score with six wickets still in hand. Cook is just out for 118 and Collingwood is standing firm with 72.

“Forever Young” (Alphaville. 1987, I think) is on the speakers. In this moment I feel as close to happy as is possible. Pretty damn groovy.

There is a perfectly reasonable near-truth I can tell about why I am where I am right now. I am in the Soaring Eagle Spur at OR Tambo airport, and I could say that I am here because I have a four-hour stopover and I am waiting for a Cape Town flight. This is true, and would even be reasonable if 1) I was going to Cape Town or 2) I did not just fly in from Port Elizabeth. Truth is that I could actually just catch a cab home, and then, be home. But what fun would that be?

I am waiting for Ruth to get in from CT, and then John Barnes is collecting us at half six-ish. So, technically, what I said is effectively true even though the real story is that I made a completely odd lift-arrangement to get home in order to hang out at the airport for four hours. I could have asked a friend to come and get me, or just forked out the R200 for Maxi Taxi – it’s hardly a price above rubies – but here I am, and feeling, as I said, pretty damn groovy.

I hear a thick Afrikaans accent behind me order a cup of rooibos tea with cold milk. I look. A tall, well-proportioned man is ordering for his mother, a wiry and elegant but clearly conservative mevrou in a blue pants suit. Her air is stern and pleased, as if she has noticed that I noticed how well she has raised him. The boys ahead ask if I am (sic) finished with the tomato sauce, and ask if I am charging for it. I say maybe. A couple with an animated infant leaves. The baby waves and drools goodbye in baby talk. His father encourages him and waves goodbye to the whole section on his behalf.

There is a strangely uncontested freedom in the anonymity of being alone in the throng of a public place. Airports are places of transit. They are not as such the beginning and endings of journeys I think. The Golden Eagle Spur at OR Tambo is a halfway house.

Somehow the time in PE passed too quickly. We did not finish the quilt, in the end (although I will put up a picture of the work-in-progress as soon as Ben emails it to me), for a variety of reasons that will only make sense to people who make quilts. (We had to unpick the border because it turned out we were working with two different colours white and we had a helluva time deciding how to actually quilt it, so we ended up unpicking again. But it will still be beautiful when done.)

I did not even finish my book, although I think I am going to take quite a chunk out of it as soon as I have posted this blog. I still have an hour and a half to kill.

Christmas and the 26th were spent with my mother’s siblings and their broods and grandbroods. It was great to see everybody together, briefly.

And now, too soon, I am back in Johannesburg. My holiday is over. On the one hand it felt too short, on the other, long enough. I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the work I am going to do next year, but I will also have time to settle in, file 2009’s reading away, and think about what the hell I was thinking when I thought I was going to write for a living.

But first I am going to put my feet up on the plastic cow hide and read my book and keep an eye on the cricket and wait. And all of that other stuff will wait for me.

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