Another Saturday, another birthday party.
And again the topic of leaving South Africa came up in the conversation. somewhere between the best age to stop breastfeeding and the anticipation of the new school year beginning this week.
It seems to crop up every time a group of thirty-something suburbanites congregate and appears in at least one newspaper or magazine a month.
Being the mediaphobe that I am I seem to panic less than some of my friends and acquaintances, although Jacob Zuma's latest announcement that he plans to banish all "bad" (can't recall his actual words) women to the fringes of society has me a little concerned because I think I may fall into that category; I have been known to wear the odd mini skirt.
It is sad to be losing so many good comrades to more stable countries where one can actually pull into one's driveway without fear of being mugged. (I kid you not, this is a regular occurrence.)
This afternoon alone I found out that one family's plans to explore life in Austria are coming along and another good friend's application for a scarce skills visa for New Zealand is pretty much in the bag.
I personally am torn. I had made the decision ten years ago to leave South Africa for a number of reasons and find a home in a country where I had to grapple with fewer issues of History, racial identity and good old fashioned middle class white guilt. I enjoyed my time in the Northern hemisphere and could quite happily have settled in North America or Europe. But with the arrival of our first child we decided to return to South Africa for the usual reasons; family, friends and the outdoor lifestyle of Cape Town.
When I went back to work I decided that the only way I could stay in SA was if I made my work trying to be part of the solution for some of the social ills caused by our past. I have been fortunate enough to be able to do so thus far, but constantly have to remind myself that I cannot singlehandedly repair hundred's of years worth of damage. And try not be overwhelmed by the suffering of the children of Africa.
I do wonder whether I am doing my daughters a disservice by staying in South Africa with all its social problems, seemingly immanent political violence and over the top crime rate. I also struggle with my constant feelings of being at a party to which I was not invited and where I am not really welcomed. But then I climb as far up Table Mountain as a two year old companion can manage, or zip to the beach for an hour before work or see a child getting a wonderful education because I sat behind a desk for six hours and worked on her bursary application and think that I really can't imagine living anywhere else.
Well, unless anywhere had a Michaels and a Starbucks...