I’m glum with a tummy ache tonight, grimy from the dust raised by my packing and missing my cats, who always do the move-routine so graciously with me. The Grand Empress of All Things Good, Ally, is now too old to move and comfortable at home with my erstwhile housemates, but I hope to be able to fetch Spizoiky soon.
I’m moving lightly this time, no big boxes for them to romp in while I fold and sort. Just, mismatched and precious blankets to enfold myself in one at a time as the weeks get colder; that one brings to mind the smell of buttered popcorn and a marathon series session on the sofa with my daughter, there another with a frayed edge from Lulubelle’s puppy teeth. It’s just a lorry load of comfortable soft furnishings and my faithful mismatched chairs, absurd tables and other oh-so-random precious small pieces from homes I can always celebrate through my lifelong obsessive habit of curating and documenting my domestic interior spaces – and what I eat inside them – frequently over the years by looking at my photo albums, both luddite and digital.
This time I bring odd plates made priceless by the memories of the days and places of their acquisition: a day trawling the antique shops in Kalk Bay with Sally, my first awed experiences of life in Germany with Adore, years of happy Mothers Days in a wonky tower of earthenware bowls, interspersed with Tania’s gifts thrown with her own hands – each one a benediction of unwavering love, ah! What wealth. I was mindful every time I received these that they would be stalwart, more so than the picture-perfect gadget showrooms of past aspirations. As I shed over the years with the end picture of my one-room end-dreamboard in mind, I made the rule that anything I retained or replaced should be multi-functional, still relevant if I reached the age of 80, and it should absolutely not be made of or contain plastic. I don’t have a minimalist bone in my body and am a shameful spendthrift, so the discipline wavered at times, especially as I had unexpected canvasses in which to play on route to that sparse, deliciously appointed end cavern.
Today I don’t own a single one of those electric kitchen appliances, but the baskets I’ve collected all my life – themselves a kaleidoscope of teenage and adult seaside holiday recollections, flea markets around the world, the pity-purchase from the lady on the pavement in Parkview – serve as both packing crates and table-tops, and I have learned well from studying the habits of migrant-worker women in rural areas; I know the voluminous potential of the Big Pep Stores Nylon Bag that travels by taxi from city to village at the end of each year for the long-awaited home visit. These treasures are handed down from mother to daughter, lent and borrowed on pain of death if not returned, and are as tough and versatile as any high-end moving company can offer; they hold clothing, linen, pots, groceries and dirty laundry. When friends remark that my décor and semi-puritan wardrobe is drab, I like to brag that it all fits in a Pep Bag and if we were to face Armageddon or be in a plane crash at least my everything is co-ordinated and you’re going to look like a twat with a cerise cocktail frock and three polyester blouses in peach, mint and acid yellow and not even knowing how bake croissants in coals on a fire you made from rubbing sticks, hey? I’m getting carried away. Oh my God, why am I like this? Anyway, the bloody road up to my caretaker’s cabin digs at Impangele Mountain Lodge is so terrifying that I’m pretty relieved to not be schlepping crystal vases and stuff up there. I haven’t missed much in this dear little rock and tin house over these past eventful two months, but I sure am looking forward to having an indoor shower and loo again. I have never left a place without leaving love for the next inhabitant, here is no different. It’s a magical and ancient space.