This past weekend, after having a traumatising week I decided to pack my sh!t up and ‘go away’ for a night. I convinced my husband, sister and two friends to go with me. It was all very spontaneous and being so close to pay day, very cheap! We found a great place on the Vaal River about an hour out of Johannesburg where we stay.
We get to this place and it’s beautiful. Lush, green trees surround out little chalet that is on the banks of the river. All types of animals wonder around in the area and exotic birds are perched at our window. We had stocked up on wine, whiskey and chips. Oh, and lots of lamb chops for a braai. This was just what I needed.
We settled down on the balcony for a few drinks and one by one everyone drifted off to bed and I ended up alone, which I didn’t really mind. I sat there contemplating life when along came a guy from one of the camping grounds asking for a smoke. Being the friendly person that I am I invited him to join me in my contemplation. We ended up sitting there till four in the morning getting drunk on red wine and I had made a new friend.
What stuck with me the most out of my encounter with this gentleman was that our two lives were totally different. While I slogged away at my job which I ate and had to scrape the bottle of the bank barrel to go on holiday his parents owned a wine estate in Stellenbosch. The wine that we were drinking was apparently not even considered by the great wine makers of Stellenbosch to be put on their table. He was in no way bragging, he was just being himself with his experiences.
He was trying to convince me to go with him to his family’s estated one weekend. He kept saying how cheap it would be ‘2k for flights, that’s all you need’ and he would ‘sort’ everything else out for me. Now 2k in my world is alot. It’s not an amount I can just blow on a whim. I have to save, I have bills and I have responsibilities. But he couldn’t fathom how I didn’t have such an apparently small amount of money lying about.
When I was non commital to the invite he then attempted something more realistic, at least what he thought was realistic. He suggested dinner and drinks in Melrose Arch. For those of you don’t know, Melrose Arch is an area in JHB that is for the very elite. Everything is ridiculously over priced in this very small but luxurious area because of one thing- they want the rest of us out. I sh!t you not! When I was studying we did a case study on this Utopia in the city. And that was the concept of this place. Over price everything to keep the common man out. If you can’t afford to be there you shouldn’t be, plain and simple.
I have been there once or twice, drinks with friends or business functions but it’s not somewhere I’d go just to hang out. I’m more of the local pub kinda gal. so I knew there was no way I could afford the night out that he had planned. I agreed however, thinking that I’d go and not ‘over do it’. He then starting telling about all the champagne he and his friends order and the lovely lobsters that they eat by the kilo. Yeah, I can just imagine that bill!
Anyway, we each went out seperate ways and he has actually mailed me to go out this friday. But what I took away from that evening, and I’m ashamed to say it, was how well off some people are. He jets around the world, rubbed shoulders with the best of them and looked down on my R100 wine. I scrimped and saved and did my best to have a good life but there is not way I’ll be travelling to another country anytime soon and I’ve never even been out of my own country. Oh, and the worst part was while I was feeling sorry for him camping in the rain with no smokes or wine, the people he was with owned the damn property we had booked at! Needless to say I was feeling very sorry for myself.
Yesterday something happened to change that. Today I am grateful for what I have because it’s a lot compared to other people. Last night I got a call from an ex work colleague of mine. We had not seen or spoken to each other for 2 years but when I left we exchanged numbers to be polite. Her son, while playing her phone, dialled me by mistake and we started chatting.
After a few minutes of chatting she told me something was so strange- she envied me. I couldn’t understand why. she had a beautiful baby boy, a job and a family. Then she explained why. She had been following me and my life and Facebook and to her I had a seemingly wonderful life. she loved how I was always going to parties and having braais and going on holiday. She envied the random pictures I was tagged in all the time and all the posts on my wall from friends making plans to do things. She always envied me going to different restuarants with what seemed like a never ending line of friends. She enjoyed my pictures of my family and every increasing book collection and my pets. She actually went on for a good 10 minutes until I was feeling incredibly uncomfortable.
Apparently she always wanted to travel and had never really been out of JHB. Her boyfriend wasn’t really the social type of person and she didn’t have any really good friends of her own. Her family is spread out all over the country and she’s not allowed to have pets in her flat.
After speaking to her I learnt that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. No matter what we had we always want more. I was admiring my new found friend his life when I had a perfectly good one of my own. I may not have been to Europe or Jamaica but I’ve been on plenty of holidays with people I love. I may not have seen the Ganges river but I can afford to spontaneously go to the Vaal for a night. I do have a good life. One filled with friends and family and love and laughter. I may have things that I hate in my life but I don’t dread waking up every morning and if I do all I need to do is pick up the phone and I’d have mountains of friends crowding in my room to make me feel better. I have a husband who cuddles me at night and buys me chocolate even though i should be on a diet. I have a life partner who doesn’t mind me sitting out on the balcony talking to a strange guy because he had one eye open the whole night ready to pounce if I was in the least amount of trouble.
I also am part of a blogging community who is so overwhelmingly supportive that I feel spoilt. I get advice and kind words and pick me ups and ego boosts and a daily basis from people I’ve never met. Perfect strangers spread out all over the world that like me based on a few words written a virtual world.
My life is good and I’m grateful.