Sunday, November 24, 2013
We landed mid-morning at Cape Town International, caught a shuttle to Constantia, were fed a lunch of thin ham and sweet orange melon under the tree, with pink bubbly to wash it down, and then I passed out and slept for four hours straight. Vince said it was the deepest I'd slept since he could remember. He hears my breathing.
He woke me at 7pm. I didn't know where I was, thought it might be Monday.We started a braai fire in what we call the Mickey Mouse braai - it's small, but fierce. Its smoke went straight up into the warm and windless evening, the perfume of jasmine and roses thick in the green garden.
We had supper on the patio, the corgis at our feet. Frogs started to croak. A slight chill rose off the stream in the poplars and nudged the heat off the day.
It had been a hop across the cold Atlantic, and a long slide down Africa, vast continent. Home.
When this trip was planned I was rather dismayed at the timing - too soon after our move! But as it turned out, I was more than ready to leave. After the initial culture shock, I like Harlem. And I love the bones of the apartment - its tall ceilings, the extra space. I have become more used to the darker interior days, the vanishing sunlight.
But I haven't had an uninterrupted sleep or peaceful morning in six weeks.
Noise. Chairs being pulled out above, footsteps back and forth. A child running and yelling below, dishes being taken out of a cupboard, a mother talking, fans working - ordinary things, for the most part. But there is no insulation between the old wooden floors and every sound is transported and magnified. We tiptoe around barefoot as we hear our own floorboards creak. In fourteen years in New York I've never experienced anything like it, despite having lived only in old, wooden-floored buildings in this city. I have slept though construction, through Flatbush Avenue traffic, through New York's sirened nights. But now I am undone.We have bought a white noise machine for the bedroom and Vincent sleeps with ear plugs.
It is beautiful house but it is a deeply restless place.
If you are sleeping in a quiet place tonight, in a silence unmolested by unexpected and unpredictable human sounds, luxuriate in it.
It is one of the best things there is. And now we have it.
Because if you ask me what I am looking forward to the most in Cape Town, apart from seeing my parents and Tipsy, my first bite of boerewors right off the braai, chasing the corgis around the lawn, a gin and tonic on the evening patio, looking up at the mountain, walking on the mountain...
...ahead of it all?
Peace. Silence. Sleeping right through. The black night of Constantia. The click frogs in the greenbelt. A cricket. Perhaps an owl.
The silence inbetween so thick you can hear it.