My time in Johannesburg has come to an end.
And although I’m excited to go home, excited to surprise my family, excited to eat mac n cheese, use reliable Internet again, and be in a place where I feel safe, I do feel a strange longing to stay.
It is said that absence makes the heart fonder. While this is often true, sometimes it is in fact being in the presence of something that makes the heart fonder. My last week in Johannesburg was such a time, where despite all my excitement of being home, I felt an urge to stay. An urge to keep exploring this country. An urge to be present.
Arts on Main and the whole Maboneng area, in particular, has been a favorite of mine. A place located in the middle of the CBD, it’s an artsy and diverse locale, with everything from craft breweries and trendy restaurants to indie shops and comedy clubs. It’s the kind of place one can spend a lifetime or a day, and always feel at the forefront of all things artistic in Johannesburg.
Cape Town was a wonderful world of sunny beaches, warm welcomes, and some of the best wine I’ve ever had.
Dzaleka was a place where I saw many hopes and many horrors.
Tongogara is where I saw what it was to struggle.
Memories of my nights spent in Melville are hazy at best.
In Rosebank I learned how to enjoy the finer things like the cinema, the gym, and a playground of shopping.
Jeppestown is a place where I learned to be okay with feeling unsafe.
These places are more than just locations to me. They are more than an expanse of dirt, or a congested urban street, or an area of struggle. These places are lessons.
Each lesson I learned allowed me to grow as a person and to better understand my purpose, if I should have one. Each lesson taught me something important about individuals, people, God, and the universe. Each lesson allowed me to see into the lives of others, in hopes of understanding them.
Each location was a lesson, and each lesson a memory. And within these lessons and locations lies something far deeper: a memory. A memory that shall live within my heart forever.