Home is where the heart is

GROWING up in a town like Somerset West, nothing irritated me more than always running into people I just did not feel like seeing.

Being the small town that it is one is almost always guaranteed that, while popping in at the local BP garage at 04:00 after returning from a night on the town looking your absolute worst for wear, ready to consume whichever pie has not yet been scoffed by previous purchasers, you will bump into a least one person who you know or who thinks they know you.

So one can understand why, come my 18th birthday and fresh out of school, I packed my bags, booked my aeroplane ticket and made it my personal mission to leave the small town syndrome behind. I would travel the world (alone) in the hopes of expanding my horizons and never having to bump into a familiar "friendly" face again come 04:00 at the local filling station.

Ending up somewhat reminiscent of a ping-pong ball going back and forth from England to South Africa, while completing my tertiary education out of sheer obligation to parental rights, my "small town syndrome phobia" only intensified and I gave some serious thought to emigrating. I even went as far as selling everything I owned, down to the bed I slept in.

The point of the matter is that, after seven years of trying to escape my home town and everyone in it, rationality set in and I decided to stay in South Africa but move to Cape Town. The worst decision of my life ? not the South Africa part, but the Cape Town scenario ? as I discovered one day when I accidentally locked my keys in the car and had absolutely no-one to call to bail me out.

Had it happened in Somerset West, I would have had a whole town of trusty candidates who would have rushed to my rescue.

Since that day, I have moved back to Somerset West and have found real comfort in the fact that a friendly face is only a garage ride away.

It is for this reason that I find myself torn between two worlds, as my work is based in Cape Town but my humble abode is nestled in the Helderberg basin.

I now spend two hours a day travelling the road in between. With this point in mind and the fact that my lease (which I'm carrying alone and cannot afford since my flat-mate upped and left three months into it) expires at the end of the month, I know the most economical and logical sense would be to pack up and move back to town, so saving much time and money. But for the last few weeks I have been humming and hawing with the hunt on to find a suitable location for me and my furry friend, a Persian cat called Cheeky.

Needless to say, no town accommodation has been seriously considered as the thought of leaving Somerset West has become less and less appealing. Strange that, for someone who has been trying most of her life to escape her home town, I now suddenly found myself longing to hold on to it.

In realising this and, more importantly, accepting it, I have given my one month?s notice but I have made the only choice I feel would leave me happy and that is to stay in Somerset West, at least for now. After all home is where the heart is.

I know every day along the route to work I will probably curse my decision while stuck behind a 65-ton truck that is going so slowly it might as well be reversing, but maybe the debriefing stage will do me some good. If there is one thing I have learned in my escapades, both abroad and here, is that happiness truly does start at home.

Article by: Toyah Lord