And when it’s sleeping time
That’s when we rise
We start to swing
Swing to the skies
Our clocks don’t chime
What a surprise
Happy New Year!
Me and my shadow
And now to repeat what I said at the start
They’ll need a large crowbar to break us apart
We’re alone but far from blue
Before we get finished, we’ll make the town roar
We’ll make all the late spots, and then a few more
We’ll wind up at Jilly’s right after Toot’s Shore
Life is gonna be we-wow-whee!
(here comes the party!)
For my shadow and me!
Frank Sinatra – Me and My Shadow
After university I wasted a year doing mostly nothing and thinking about the future. Well, that’s what I remember of it. I did apply for a dozen jobs in Namibia, but could either not speak English well enough or were from the wrong ethnic group. So I ended up working on a farm as a home school teacher for about 5months. Though I enjoyed the boys and farm life, I was terribly alone. I cycled like I’ve never done before and had endless hours to myself, watching birds and writing. I finally decided that this isn’t exactly the life I pictured, so I packed it up and moved to Otjiwarongo where I worked in my parents shop. My luck soon turned and I got a job in Swakopmund at a school. Finally I was getting somewhere.
As a young and fresh teacher, I faced several difficulties. Firstly I had to learn that the children in any given school are not your biggest headache. They are the fun part. It is their parents that you need to watch out for. That said, I made excellent friends with some of the parents and am still friends after about 10 years with some of them. The second lesson I had to learn was that as a young teacher I had an allure that I have not been aware of. The shock came one day when I stood by a window on a civvies day and overheard a girl said: “My biggest wish is to have the same jacket and sunglasses as miss M.” I had to laugh. It is only then that I noticed half the playground wearing similar clothes as to what I wore everyday…
In the afternoons I chaperoned a little girl around and helped her with her homework. This was not always an easy task, but the bond was incredible. Today she is a high school student of amazing talents and is a truly gifted young lady. I am honoured to have spent a year with her.
It is the evenings and the weekends in Swakopmund that build the foundations of who I was to become. For the first time I was an individual who had my own car and even a little bit of money to go out and buy the things I liked eating. I stayed in a bachelor flat with my beloved dog and parrot, next to the pastor’s house. It is here that I met my most valuable friends for years to come. They were as different from one another as I was from them. But somehow we made it work.
The three of us sometimes went to the movies, but mostly we hung out at someone’s house catching up on old movies or previous episodes of Prison Break. We even went sand surfing one evening and frequented a coffee shop that stayed open till late. Their birthday parties were legend and I have memories that I will never forget. My one friend had a car quite a bit bigger and faster than mine – that didn’t stop us from racing rather wet and dangerous streets late at night on our way home.
As the elder of two sisters, I also provided a save break from the parents. I don’t think I received so many visits because I had a cool flat. I think it was simply because I had a flat, a car and was not nearly as strict as I probably should have been. Nevertheless, the holidays with my sister were good memories and we were able to bridge our 7 year difference after a lifetime of fights and arguments.
I didn’t know Swakopmund as a tourist destination until my first New Year’s there. I had to park blocks away from my favourite coffee shop only to find no open seat. Grocery shopping suddenly got expensive as the prices went up for the busy season. Town was busy, noisy and expensive. But being a Swakop resident, we knew about little known hangouts and found ourselves hanging here most of our holidays.
Swakopmund served as my school of life and I had to learn quite a few things in a very short time.
Swakopmund was about East Wind
And sunsets on the beach (at Tiger Reef).
I learned about forbidden love
And the sad truth about the apple on the tree.
About being a jeans and sneakers person,
About loving biker jackets
And strong coffees.
I had to accept that my dog was getting old
And that I loved animals way more than anybody else.
I learned the value of true friends
And about the trust of children.
I learned to love life
And even the darkest moments in life had a purpose.
My home away from home.