It feels like yesterday, I was sitting on the floor in my mom’s dining room in Fort Mill, Stacy sitting on top of my already full suitcase, as I tried to stuff in every last bit I could. Chatting away as if I were going on an exotic vacation, not moving away.
“I bet you’ll be back before the three months is up,” all my friends joked. Silly Americans, thinking South Africa was more rural and undeveloped than it is, like lions roam the runways, and rhinos graze in your back yard. If only they’d known it was more like America with just a lot more potholes and less choices in the grocery store. That we actually have fire and electricity in our village. Or if they’d known I’d find Johan on the other side, they probably would have known I wasn’t coming back.
My parents cooked my favourite meal that night, sticky barbecue ribs and steamed shrimp cooked with Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay, something we never leave America without.
We all chatted about the good old days and the trouble Stacy and I use to get into. What I’d do once I arrived and where I was going to live. My older sister, Amanda had left for South Africa two weeks earlier, she’d been living here for quite a few years already, but they were moving and needed to get settled in before I arrived.
If I would have known that was the last time I’d see the Fort Mill house I would have tried to soak in more memories. Our family shared a lot of great times there, and unfortunately, my parents moved on from that house before I came home again for a visit.
I was 26 then, and my wild and reckless heart needed a new start. So the next day, I boarded the plane and never looked back. Still haven’t.
Two years after I moved here my parents decided they also wanted to come over to South Africa to live. I was heartbroken. It’s so weird to say, but I truly was. I felt that without a “home” to visit, all part of my former life would disappear. The old Blair would go silently into the night and I would never have a “home” to go back to. I begged them to stay. Not to come to this crazy country. They’d never fit in here. They were too old for such a big change.
But they came, and they conquered. They moved around until they found the most wonderful house, on top of a hill, over looking a macadamia nut farm. The farmer and his family embraced them as if they were family. They found friends in every corner of the woods. They met other Americans and embraced them as family. But most importantly, they were happy.
And these past few years I really needed them, and so did my sister. When times get tough, there’s nothing like going home and being around family that loves you. The house doesn’t make the home, it’s the people there.
Two weeks ago, my parents suddenly decided to move back to America. They made the decision and in a week, they were packed up and gone. It feels like a safety net has been ripped out from underneath us, Amanda and I, but we know it’s the best for them. My grandmother needs my Mom and that’s where she should be. We’ve been so lucky to move to a foreign country and have our parents be able to spend so much time with us and our families.
Good luck with your new life, Mom and Dad. Take care of Grandma. I know it will be great to be back “home” and we can’t wait to come visit.
Just know it’s especially hard in the mornings and afternoons, when I don’t have you to call.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later. Stacy taught me that.