Moving to Joburg and leaving Cape Town

The year is coming to an end. I have a few weeks left in Cape Town before I do the unthinkable: move to Joburg. People have been asking me how I feel about moving to Jozi. I’m not sure. My standard answer has been “I’m just trying to get to the end of the year, pack and move things across the country and then think about what it all means”. It sounds as though I’m in survival mode and trying to get through to the end of the year with all my wits intact. Some days are better than others. My wits keep leaving me from time to time and I have a sleeplessness night plagued by endless worries.

I’ve had a few teary moments when thinking about the trek up North. Not because I have any major attachments to Cape Town (I wish I did). Sometimes I feel like I’ve let myself down by not giving this place a chance to seep into my bones and psyche (when I moved here in 2012 I knew I wouldn't think of Cape Town as home. I wasn't settling here). I’m sad to be leaving my school. I’m sad there are some kids I won’t be able to see grow a little older. There’s creative writing from my favourite writers I’ll never get to see (I keep saying I would love to edit their work even when I’m away, but I doubt they will email me and keep in touch). And another teacher is going to reap the rewards of some of the work I’ve put into the students I’ve taught and struggled with since 2012.

The move to Joburg has made me question myself and my intentions a lot. The idea for the great move first came to mind last year July. But near the end of the year I decided to be selfless (and practical) and stay for another year so that my Grade 11 class (in 2013) wouldn’t have to deal with a new teacher in their final year. Somehow, it mattered more for them then my current Grade 11s (story for another day).  The desire for change also posed some questions about whether I would continue teaching or study further. Initially I applied and registered for a Ph. D. But things didn’t quite fit. I had lots of admin and the registration process became a chore. If I was a little more esoteric, I would have read the disruptions differently; as signs, omens of things to come. But I pushed through and attempted to do the Ph. D while teaching as well. “Big mistake! Huge!”[1] (another story for another day).

The omen did come in the form of my mother having a stroke in July. It shouldn’t have rattled me as much as it did. I’m used to things going wrong as much as I’m surprised when things don’t go wrong. So when my mother had a stroke I had to rethink my plans: to teach or to push through with the Ph. D and be a poor student for a few years? I opted for the former and decided to find other options for my new life in Joburg. I was surprised when I saw a teaching post at a girls school in Joburg, another sign, or omen or serendipity (I'm still deciding). I applied and they gave me the job as the English teacher starting next year.

As the year creeps closer to the end and my spell in Cape Town has been narrowed down to calendar days, I am partly relieved and partly haunted by the consequences of my decisions. What does Joburg hold in store for me? I’ve heard of people moving continents in pursuit of their dreams and that makes me feel like a wimp. I’m not there yet. I’m just moving provinces because something (or more honestly, being with someone) compels me to get out of my comfort zone (yes, clichés are often the default) and take the leap of faith and trust my instincts (creativity be damned).

I’m waiting for some emotion to overtake me so I can finally have a definite answer for the questions about what I feel about moving to Joburg and leaving Cape Town. I want to be more excited. But after all the paper work I’ve had to deal with in the most recent weeks, I’m hardly excited. I’m mellow, almost simmering with something that could be excitement. I want to be excited but the thought of what lies ahead of me before the mid-December 14 hour drive keeps reigning me in. I have to mark hundreds of exam scripts. I’m going to spend my hours in a chair with red pen in hand and invigilating exams. I hate exam time (another story, perhaps for the next post). What a way to go out!

[1] As Julia Robers says in Pretty Woman


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