Welcome to the neighbourhood

February 10, 2016 § 5 Comments

Four days ago I moved out of the house I’d inhabited for nearly 17 years. My babies became teenagers in that house; every inch of its rather large grounds hold a memory.

And yet, it wasn’t a wrench to leave at all. I was ready. It was time to move on.

My new house is on a much smaller plot. My address isn’t as posh. And yet I don’t feel as if I’ve downscaled at all. Even among the boxes and chaos that surrounds us, this place already feels like home.

In my old house, the walls were eight feet tall, and I barely saw – or knew – my neighbours. Occasionally we heard the sounds of children swimming on a Sunday afternoon, or smelt the smoke from their braai fires, but otherwise they were strangers.

I haven’t met my new neighbours yet, but I will. They’re much closer here, and it’s strangely comforting.

I sat on my swing seat on the front stoep tonight, watching the lightning light up the clouds on the East Rand. I could hear the noise of the television on one side; down the street a cluster of domestic workers were catching up on the day’s gossip while the strains of my daughter’s violin practice echoed behind me in the house.

At 11pm on our first night, someone was singing a pretty good rendition of Danny Boy. The people behind us were having such a big party I was convinced they were running a shebeen. (They aren’t.) And on Sunday morning I heard the sounds of a small child laughing in the garden across the road.

And as I sat gently swinging to and fro in the dark, I realised why none of those noises bother me at all. Because they’re not noises. They’re just sounds – the sounds of a community, of a proper neighbourhood.

And it’s a marvellous thing. It’s home.

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