An oldie but a goodie from a previous blog many many moons ago… So here goes nothing!
I have the misfortune of living in an apartment above a grouchy pastor who refuses to admit that he is, at heart, a country mouse! There is nothing wrong with being a country mouse… BUT if you want to hang with the city mice, you need to adjust. Full stop.
As my younger brother once said of a clean-freak-less-is-more-chrome-and-concrete home-owner that, when ‘welcomed’ (I use this term pretty liberally) into his humble abode, you were expected to leave your shoes at the door and “levitate to the nearest couch.” This explains my downstairs neighbour who expects an unwavering devotion to, and execution of, levitation from me, this man whom I shall affectionately name THE Country Mouse. At a moment’s blink, said Country Mouse will not hesitate in slapping a R500 fine on your unsuspecting back, accompanied by a print-out of the apartment block’s ‘Rules & Regulations’, the ‘applicable’ sections either highlighted or in a bright red font.
Believing very much that one catches more bees with honey (as They say), I wrote a response to the clearly desperately bah-humbuggered individual… A letter addressed to all the home-owners in the apartment block that I hoped might cure my unChristianly Christian Country Mouse of his acute bah-humbuggery. (Don’t laugh. Bah-humbuggery is a very grave medical issue that doesn’t get nearly press-coverage!)
Then I thought to myself that since every writer and person of opinion (of which I am if nothing else, at LEAST the latter!), gets their two cents in the Christmas stocking come year end… Why not me too?
So here it is, guys… My own non-religion-specific Chris-/Xmas address to you all… God-fearing or not, I wish you a blooming marvellous time of year and ask of you to be filled with the generosity of spirit our country demands of us, not only now, but always! (Corny, I know, but I’m embracing my inner cornster, so deal.)
To all urban tenants/home-owners
In the spirit of Christmas and goodwill unto others, I would like to raise an issue that I feel quite strongly about. No, I am not on the body corporate, but I don’t feel that should entitle me to any less of an opinion when it comes to a place I consider my home.
Communal living (or ‘apartment block living’ or whatever you would like to call it) can be a wonderful and equally trying way of life. I may not always be thrilled when my neighbours’ child howls in the middle of the night because s/he is teething or has had a frightening nightmare. That said, however, I do get a special kind of delight from hearing that same child chatter and laugh in the morning, through the walls, while I’m whipping up my first cup of coffee. I may also not be thrilled when my neighbours party till all hours of the morning, but unless their music continues to blast unreasonably till 4a.m. and this is a regular weekend occurrence, I see no harm in occasionally bearing with a bad night’s sleep so that they can let their hair down and celebrate whatever occasion it is that got them blasting music in the first place!
A second point is that I am able to appreciate that not everybody has made the same lifestyle choices as me. I am able to appreciate that we live in a country where things are no longer as ‘fixed’ as they once were. In order to be truly democratic, we have entered a time where some of us have to juggle a multitude of jobs in the hope that one of those jobs is something we love doing. Showering at 6a.m. may seem like a perfectly ‘normal’ thing for someone else to do, but I manageress during the evenings so I can write and teach during the day and still pay my bills on time. This means that when I am often getting to bed at 2a.m., someone else has already been asleep 4 hours. When their ‘being awake’ sounds wake me in turn at 6a.m., there are times when I have only had 4 hours of sleep to start with! But again, such is ‘apartment block living’.
I choose Central, Port Elizabeth, and I choose apartment block living. I choose this African urban environment and I choose to live in South Africa because the vibrancy and the unpredictability excite me. As much as it can seem an inconvenience at times to be in such close proximity to others, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to experience the changes and the growth that we are going through as a nation in a manner that is ‘up close and personal’. But this again means I will have to appreciate that everyone’s upbringing and inherent culture may differ from my own and I will have to grow and become flexible within this growing and flexible environment, if I want to be happy in it. A democracy means we have to learn to accommodate each other, love each other, and take each other into consideration and this is often an uncomfortable multi-way process. I hope that we are all ready for the challenge.
On that note, a merry Christmas to all and best wishes for 2012!