Saturday, 16 June 2007

Seven: Relish my 'joie de vivre'

''You are a great example of 'joie de vivre'.'' This was the inscription in a book you gave me in December 1991. I had not considered this to be so until that point, but instinctively I knew you were right.

Previously I had always believed it was my inimitable Aquarianness that defined who I was. I knew that I was bursting with an extreme emotion needing to get out, and whenever life kicked me in the shins, I would somehow get up again and stagger on using this inner 'something', but having no name for it. All my life I knew I was different and didn't fit in with the rest of my clan.

When I was about 5 or 6 I woke my brother up in the middle of the night and took him outside to sit on the 'stoep' (porch) to look at the moon. My mother woke up and came looking for us and there we were, oblivious to all around us. I remember sitting on that step with my hand carelessly draped round my little brother's shoulders, and I remember her fury.

This fury was going to be unleashed upon me many times in the next dozen years. I took my brother to 'town' which was about 10 blocks from our house, and was discovered by my very stern, very angry mother, who then gave me a thrashing right there and then to my utter embarrassment of course. Why couldn't she understand my curiosity, my thirst for life, my need to be me?

I was always either acting and singing or playing 'school school' with the neighbourhood kids. I would strut up and down in our makeshift classroom wielding my big stick and admonishing them much as my own mother had admonished me.

My best friends, Priscilla (Cilla) and Cynthia (Cinny) lived round the corner and we were always in each other's homes. One very hot afternoon we were carrying some eggs from my house to theirs to bake a cake (aged about 13) when one of the eggs fell out of the bowl and landed on the sandy path. We started laughing, when along came three boys on their bikes. The first one asked us 'what are you doing?' and I answered without a moment's hesitation and a straight face, 'frying an egg'. This only made us laugh louder and longer.

I loved and still do love anything unusual. When I get a present I am more interested in the wrapping than the actual gift. When I buy something I am more interested in what I didn't buy than what I did buy. And through all the many many tears that life has cost me, I have always managed to 'pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.'

So, thank you for that particular inscription in my book and I promise I will continue to relish that 'joie de vivre'.