I love my boy, D’Artagnan

Natasje van Niekerk:

This morning I buried my bot D’Artagnan. May he rest in peace, the little love of my life. It’s been a heartwrenching day and tomorrow I’ll write a fresh blog about it.

Originally posted on a storm in a C-cup:

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Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my boy, D’Artagnan. He was of course named after the Musketeer by the same name and anyone who knows him will tell you, he did a stellar job. Make no mistake, he can be a grumpy little git but next to eating and chasing birds, his favourite thing to do is loving his mommy.

D'Art 2This morning he was very clingy, more than usual and insisted on my attention. I thought he was just losing his mind. Everyone in this house does that from time to time. But when he didn’t want breakfast and he started crying and walking funny, I knew… this wasn’t an ordinary hurt. I knew he hadn’t eaten something obscure or was constipated or any of the ordinary things. I also know he’s ten… He’s “listening” to me less and less and even when it’s time for cookies. …

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April in Paris

Paris in the Spring

I have that April in Paris feeling…

Sweet melancholy.

It’s autumn in Johannesburg. A beautiful time of year. The air is crisp and all of nature prepares for winter. The yellow leaves on the trees are like traffic light warnings. The summer flowers push out their last effort in colour, None of the blooms boast the spectacular perfection of spring and early summer, but you have to give them an A for effort.

I have a calm inside me, probably because I now have a job I love. I work a zillion hours, but it doesn’t feel like work for the first time in my life. It feels like I’m drawing a picture and I have to finish it… So I do. It also come with a bit of financial security, something I haven’t known in like ever. It’s an interesting thing: Three years ago my therapist told me I crave stability – with my upbringing and history – but I tend to make choices that necessitate the exact opposite. People always say, “You’re so brave.” Because I do boldly go where no sane person would opt to go, with quite a cart of financial responsibility (and no means to support it). But hey, I seem to survive every time.

I’ll tell you this as well, I kicked and protested when I started this job too: The regularity of having to go to the office every day, with people… I know disgusting! I whined because I didn’t have a chair, fresh air… For a while there I was like a baby unhappy with every single toy you gave me to appease me. Had I not on day 1 of my new job with a regular salary sign up for a retirement annuity and a variety of other grown up things that set me back an extra R6000 per month, I would’ve quit after month one. I am like that – sometimes justified and sometimes not – in that I would not stay where I am unhappy. I will move. It’s an inspirational quality… but to be honest, in my case I often “run” when I am afraid even before I know what I am afraid of. Just in case. I don’t like sticking around to find out how exactly I could get hurt.

Two of my best friends held my hand as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, one listened as I whined and protested and cried, and built up my self-esteem. The other, like a sage, told me to hang in there. Human beings are apparently adaptable… who knew. I was adaptable too.

So here I am, with stability. Who ever imagined that stability and me would be in the same room, let alone holding hands. It’s very comforting I tell you this. I never understand why people are so attached to their comfort zones even when they get no joy from it. Their comfort zones become cages and they stick it out – never got it. It’s the comfort of stability. I guess I’m lucky because this comfort also came with an abundance of joy. I guess the Universe knew the only way it could coax this wild horse into any form of stability is by offering joy in return.

I have that April in Paris-feeling. The most beautiful song….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCsNg6XB3dg

The lyrics:

April in Paris
Chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris
This is the feeling
No one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
Never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris,
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart

… so happy, in-lovey… but the melody, so sad.

Why am I so happy. And so inconsolably sad. Why do I have spring in my life, and autumn in my heart.

What have you done to my heart.

autumn in paris

Hitting a nerve

Natasje 3

It’s true, I stopped writing. For many reasons. Some true. Some bullshit. You tell yourself an awful lot of bullshit to justify your actions and distract you from the real demons. Fact is, I have very sensitive emotional skin. I would not like to quote Dr Phil of all people but he once said that if you’ve been through a tough “journey” it’s like your emotional skin is sunburnt. And you know how sensitive skin is to touch when you are sunburnt? Well my emotional skin is like that. In time it will heal… If it doesn’t keep getting sunburnt, and people don’t keep poking at it.

A while ago, three “friends” took me on over what I am writing:

Soulmates? Really?! You can’t possibly believe in such utter…”

Me and my sensitive emotional skin, we were hurt. I felt humiliated, ridiculed and exposed… Like I was standing naked in front of everyone – which is exactly what you do when you write – and people laughed at me. To be fair that is exactly what happened. My thoughts were mocked and ridiculed, so yes… I was 4 again and being teased for having baby fat. In there lies the clue. At 4 you are supposed to have baby fat, because you are a baby. And at 36 you are supposed to believe in love. To be honest, as a human you are supposed to believe in love.

Friday at dinner we talked about writing and I said to a friend,

“Well, I’ve quit writing the blog because I’ve realised…”

Watch me adding perfect logic and good reasoning right here:

“… that my feelings are private and they should not be shared on something so public as a blog. And so too are my actions and thoughts. They are my own.”

My friend looked at me, from the potato-peelings and said,

“Can’t you see? You’ve hit a nerve.”

Still, I was unwavering in my belief. I am not exposing myself so people can project their shit on me. Yes, it’s their shit… I get that. But I’m not their toilet. You feel me?

“They had a bad reaction to you speaking a truth and that is exactly what you should be doing. You’re doing the right thing, girl.”

At this point, I wavered… A long time ago, I just started writing. Post my degree, pre- knowing my arse from my elbow, Antjie Krog was giving a talk. Antjie Krog, for the people not in South Africa, is a famous South African writer / poet and she’s quite a heroine of mine. Anyway she was telling a story about when she just started out as a journalist. She wrote a piece and it was “soft”. You know the kind of writing you write when you don’t want to offend anyone – note I’ve used the word shit a few times on purpose – when you tread lightly near the truth and leave your heart in the next room. Soft. So her editor said to her:

“Do you want to write? Or do you want to make friends?”

She said, she made a decision that day and when she looks back, there’s a sea of the slain behind her. Only her husband has walked with her through the valleys.

I thought of this. I’ve been thinking about this since Friday night. I miss writing. It’s so much a part of me. I still write in my journal. And I write for a living… but my blog, I love my blog. It’s become like my confessional. Like the magnifying glass through which I look at the parts I want to write about and I write until I get there. My blog is personal. That’s what makes it beautiful and real.

***

Natasje 2

At Friday night dinner, my friend said one other thing about me that struck me… Yawl know I’ve been saying the journey on “A Storm in a C-cup” will come to an end soon. Because in truth I did feel this cycle was done. I journeyed from love-lorn to beloved and adored, and for that I thank my soulmate who will always have my heart, and now a new journey starts.

My friend, Alex, with whom I had dinner on Saturday night has known me intimately since I was about 16 or 17. We were dance partners back in the dance days, we both studied English Literature, we both moved to Joburg and he’s seen me in both my wild days and during my mad existence. Not trying to be profound and in passing really he said to me,

“You are quite the idealist and Romantic for such an extremely realistic girl.”

This is the contradiction that is me, in a nutshell. My life has been too real for me to wear rose-coloured glasses, yet I do believe in the “magic”. Why else would I have survived? Why else would I keep going?

I’ve been toying with a blog that peels away the layers… What are you underneath the make up? What parts are you? What parts are more you than the parts you came with?

A week ago I stood at my grandfather’s grave. A lot happened for me over the two days that made up my grandfather’s funeral… I lost and gained a lot. Not just in that moment but over time, but the realisation only met with me and looked me in the eye in those two days. I stood at my grandmother’s house, she passed more than 20 years ago and her beautiful old house, unrecognisable, showed the decay. Why? Why am I holding onto her… let her go. Because for some reason I believe she is the last and only person who loved me, that is the truth of it. That is the belief I have built my reality on.

In my new “series” of posts, I will peel away these layers. Please join me on this journey…. If you are not afraid, I may hit a nerve. You’re welcome.

 

Photo by Germaine de Larch – http://www.germainedelarch.co.za

 

After the storm

Natasje van Niekerk:

At this point in time, rains have taken over my city, Johannesburg. I told a friend recently, Nature knows. She’s weeping with me. But I’m ready to stop now. I’m hoping she is too.

Enjoy the words and music:

Originally posted on a storm in a C-cup:

I’m getting into a new habit to not write while I’m in a storm. I should stop. That’s exactly when I should write. So that explains the hiatus.

In the middle of a storm, you can stop to pick a flower. Or just smell it… What I’m really trying to say is that, there are flowers to be found in storms. You can see them, or can choose not to. Sometimes I think it’s a gift to be able to see them, many people just don’t.

In the middle of this last storm, I found a flower.

flower-storm

Mumford and Sons. A song called After the storm.

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

There’s always something that keeps you up. Keeps you running. Even when it rains. Sometimes…

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The Calm…

Natasje van Niekerk:

Two years ago… Crazy how far I’ve come. Two weeks to the three year anniversary of having been attacked. Still Fearful. Still moving toward the fear. Instead of away. Brave? Or stupid? I couldn’t tell you… A bit of both, likely.

Originally posted on a storm in a C-cup:

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There’s something about the equinox. There’s calmness in the air. The birds temporarily put away the urgency in their chirps… the flies buzz. Just buzz, a regular buzz… not the frantic buzz that drive you to the verge of insanity. Like for a moment, equilibrium could be tangible. You could feel it on your skin or feel it on your inhalation. It’s like every cell greets the air on its way through your respiratory system. When you walk, it’s like gliding through something smooth… and right. Just right. Like everything is just right. Exactly as it should be.

For a week now I’ve been so anxious. I hate Anxiety. Anxiety starts in your stomach, right under your sternum and from there it festers… it messes up your whole digestive system. Bubbling and boiling in your stomach like a witch’s brew. And if you’re really unlucky it erupts. And you spew…

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There’s a pile up in my mind…

… like an enormous traffic jam. Words like cars heading towards the coast on a December break are piling up. All the things I don’t say just piling up…

And there’s a place where I don’t want to say anything anymore and I flit in and out of that space like a lost moth.

They pile up in my head and rest this side of my teeth as if there will come a time I can say them. But I know that time will never come. So they just grow stale in my mouth. And I’m afraid to even open my mouth lest they died and my breath smells from the words, rotten behind my teeth.

I don’t think I will be blogging for a while to come.

Something’s been eating at me for over a week now, and this afternoon I realised what it was: I have subscribed to a half life. I always liked to think of myself as able to create my own destiny, but here I am stuck with a half life. I was sitting, pondering the heaviness in my soul and I thought: Stop fixating on what you can’t change, on the things you have no control over and do what you can with what you have. And it dawned on me: I am stuck with this half life. The stone in my shoe, not mine to take out… not a stone I have any control over. I am just stuck with it.

I don’t want it.

Something rancid has moved into my heart since then, something much like death. There’s no point in writing, creating or growing… Growing where? Deeper into this half life? I wouldn’t even call it half life. Half implies there’s something of life left. I can just as well be a little rat on a wheel. No reason. Just peddling. There’s no point in writing until further notice. The words have no colour any more. Why write about this state of existence… that’s all you can possibly call it.

I will sit.

In a thousand silent ways

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Four years ago a druid told me to find my silence. I’ve searched quite extensively for it, in depths of meditation,  in nature, on strange journeys and forced cease-fires. I’ve found the absence of sound. Often. But my silence… My silence I only found in the quiet between souls.

I recall a night of unexplained melancholy between myself and my beloved. The distance between us great. The longing tangible. Meeting up on different sides of computer screens a hundred kilometers apart, I sat staring at my screen with my hand on the screen thinking if I believed, I could reach all the way through it. I sat. Quietly. After a while he typed: I’m sorry I’m so quiet. I hadn’t realised neither of us had typed a single word in the longest time. I just said: I’m quiet too. It wasn’t uncomfortable. It was just silent.

Love lives in a thousand silent ways.

In the space where you don’t have to say a single word. That gives me great comfort. I think about 80% of the time when I speak, I speak because I am socially conditioned to speak. Because I know I am expected to speak. I know I am expected to behave in a certain way, because that is what being sociable means or being in company means or because I am so uncomfortable with the silence that lies between me and every one else on this planet. I live alone and I quite enjoy it mostly because I don’t have to say anything if I don’t feel like it. I can just be me. Quietly pottering around, fiddling with pot plants, watering plants, cutting roses, tidying, cooking. My house is always pounding with sound, the radio, the dogs, the neighbours… but my mind is quiet. Silence.

I guess being able to find my silence took an external affirmation, apparently. It’s not like I’ve only just been able to live happily in my own private silence. I just only discovered it, when it was pointed out to me. My silence was here inside me, around me all the time. But wen I shared it, I knew I had it.

It reminds me a little of my favourite song in My Fair Lady where she sings in Wouldn’t it be lovely:

Oh, so lovely sittin’ abso-bloomin’-lutely still
I would never budge till spring
Crept over the window sill

Someone’s head restin’ on my knee
Warm and tender as he can be
Who takes good care of me
Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly…


Turns out, the simplest thing makes me happy. Just a comfortable silence. Somehow I don’t think it’s just that… It must also be an empty silence.

My house is always pounding with sound, because when I was little the latter half of my parents’ marriage was spent in silence. They only discussed logistics. The silence that occupied my childhood home was one of a thousand unspoken resentments between two adults. In the end they didn’t fight. They lived past each other, my dad would busy himself with his ‘things’, usually something that included music and my mom would do her ‘things’. There would be stretches of watching TV in silence. They laughed at the same spots, made the odd comment, but that silence hung in the air like a bad stench. Later in life I recognised that silence in my first relationship. We would box set binge, mostly because it facilitated a space where I wouldn’t be obliged to talk to him and the silence wouldn’t be questioned. The times I spoke about anything was usually because I had become starved for sharing a thought, and the pay-off was so disappointing, because my then partner would speak and I just regretted opening that door. The resentment doesn’t last forever in that silence. Time kills it and then it’s just the death of the relationship you can smell floating in that silence. After a while that silence is just filled with decomposing relationship… and then nothing… but this nothing is like an abyss. You don’t want that nothing floating around in your silence. No wonder I searched for so long and did not find.

I bet there was a fear that if I did find my silence, the silence free of cluttered thought that nothing would be wallowing around in it. Maybe I did know my silence but too afraid of that nothing I never looked into it to search for the sweet comfort. There are lots of maybe’s. But thank goodness I did.

Oh the sweetness in that silence.

The silence of just sitting.

The silent comfort of knowing.

The comfortable silence in just loving.

The love in a look, in perfect silence.

The silences between breaths and heartbeats in moments of pure vulnerability.

The silence in absolute adoration.

Love lives in a thousand silent ways.