‘I do’ in Blue

blue overalls

I am of the opinion that men and women should get married in standard blue ‘worker’ overalls.

Let us have no more of this dolled-up-in-a-trendy-white-gown-with-false-eyelashes-and-makeup-tottering-down-the-aisle-(in-snazzy-heels)-to-a-handsome-groom-dressed-in-an-equally-‘trend’-tux/suit vibe. Nay, nay nay!

Because such outfits imply that this couple will go on to say their ‘I dos’, have their ‘I do’ kiss, party with their friends and families, go on their honeymoon and then head off to their (trend) castle, after it is all over and done with, to stare lovingly into each other’s eyes for the rest of their lives…She will stay fabulous-looking, so will he, they will never be bored with their ‘together’ lives, or (dare I say it) each other, and their love will blossom on and on and on, all on it’s very own…‘al natural’.

Which all sounds quite fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but no married (or previously married persons) will ever tell you that this will be and is true. In fact, they may just prefer to say nothing…

Which is why, you see, I feel to say that blue overalls are by far a more realistic ‘fit’ for  wedding ‘gear’ for both bride and groom. If a wedding day is symbolic of the kind of commitment being made and the journey ahead, then I feel that two people standing at the end of an aisle getting married in blue overalls will most definitely speak the ‘Big Picture’.

Those in the South African context will know quite well that if there is ever a man around in a blue overall, he is most certainly there to work. And his work is often the work that no one else quite likes. But his outfit is ideal for this purpose! Made of hardy material, the overall is used to cover anything less durable that will not withstand the wear and tear of some solid, sweat-on-your-brow, paint-splattered, grit-under-your-nails, heavy machinery graft.

And to maintain a relationship and a friendship day-in and day-out (that is as committed as day one, and more so), well, people, that is graft. Not running when the proverbial paw-paw hits the fan? Well, that means some work needs to be done. Some rooms may need bashing down; some spaces may need to be (repeatedly) redefined for sharing; chosen communication channels need to be properly installed and tested; and friends need to be invited in to point out the sagging ceilings/crooked walls/you name it and to show the best ways to replace/fix these things, especially if the two in overalls are at logger heads, sleeping in different rooms, communicating in short syllables and not quite certain of the way forward.

In the ‘old days’ if you were making a commitment of this kind, all involved would halve an animal and walk between the very bloody pieces in a figure of eight. This symbolized that the promise being made between the two parties was eternally binding (a figure of 8 goes on and on). Your promise, before God was then: “If I don’t honour this promise, then do to me the exact thing I have done to this animal, God. Amen”. They knew how to make promises to (or covenants with) each other back then they did. Because they knew that commitment is hard work and it is easier to be out than in.

These days we just prefer to have a fun bite of our three-tiered (trend) wedding cake!

So, I do not actually mean to put a damper on the excited weddings planned for the future (most girls want the day, the cake and the dress); but I am saying that, as you cruise gorgeously down that aisle girl, bear in mind the mental image of yourself with blue overalls on. As you fix that tie for the Big Day gents, be sure to have your toolbox packed and ready for what comes after. No, I am not talking about the honeymoon.

Hard work, light work, rewarding work, I-just-bashed-my-finger work, this-is-not-working-what-the-hell?! work. Marriage is work. Better get those overalls on.

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The story of us – the short version

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Meet Rocker Chick and Intellectual Zombie Guy.  They are pocket zombies.

I imagined them into conceptual being one day a few years back on a cynical whim: my alter ego and her soul mate.

I thought, well if I can make of myself a Rock Star, well then my Zombie male life companion could be anyone I darn pleased him to be!  Even if I did not think he could ever exist in my reality…

Thus, he would be deeply intellectual, well read, articulate, deliberative, stimulating for my mind. Moreover, he would be a man who took God seriously and who would not be ashamed to get down on his knees in prayer when the occasion called for it.

It was a fabulously empty and cynical plan at the time, nevertheless, I contacted the local pocket zombie maker (yup, she exists!) and tasked her to make me 2 times Pocket Zombies: one to Imagetake the form of a Rocker Chick, the other an Intellectual Zombie.  The zombie maker could interpret and translate these concepts as she felt best…

Intellectual Zombie sits on a bucket, with head in hands, being pensive, as he does.  Books (ranging from Yeats poems to theology texts) pile up around his seat.  And carefully showing, just a tad, his heart.

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Morrissey Lass revisted

Although of Irish descent, Morrissey Lass actually grew up on the wild plains of Africa-land in a small village called Alice.  Alice boasted one main street (‘blink and you’ll miss it’), one butcher (owned by the Tremeers), one hotel, one small, magical library, a playschool, a handful of churches and the grounds on which the acclaimed University Of Fort Hare squatted and sprawled at will.  (Alice might have boasted a lot more than these, but Morrissey Lass was too small to know about that then.  She knew about her home with its long driveway and endless backyard, she knew about her best friend who lived next door through the nifty hole in the fence and she knew about her much loved nanny, Emily.  She also knew where her dad lived and she knew where the horse lived that her dad took her to visit when they had run out of things to do.  Which was often.  Morrissey Lass knew how to walk to the bus stop to catch a lift to school (a half hour drive to the neighbouring town) and she knew that you should never smoke because that’s what the smoking bus driver with the dirty finger tips told her after he caught her sucking on the end of one of his stompies one late afternoon…)

Morrissey Lass only lived in Alice because of the University of Fort Hare.  Her folks worked in Academia, her folk’s friends worked in Academia and her friend’s folks worked in Academia for the most part too.  Fort Hare was Alice and possibly the only reason why anyone would choose to live there.  Unless they were the butcher, of course.

Morrissey Lass spent her days like all small village children do – outside with siblings and friends, on a bicycle, up a tree, or in the farmlands stealing fruit off the trees in dress-loads full.  Because Morrissey Lass actually wore dresses back then.

Her mother did not raise her children on sugar and sweets.  Instead, Morrissey Lass was grown on curries and vegetables and all those things small children love and appreciate.  Oh, and ‘Emily’s Jam’ on top of a thick layer of margarine on top of bread, which was a staple and which she later found (when she could read) was actually called Hugo’s Mixed Fruit Jam and was laden with sugar anyways.

Her father also once tried to feed them black soy sausages instead of regular viennas, and it was probably at that point that Morrissey Lass realized her family was not the regular type of family.  Their saving grace was that they had some far funkier family friends to which to compare themselves – like the family up the road living on a small holding in the mountain village of Hogsback, who did not even get to eat mixed fruit jam, normal cheese, sugar in their cake or store bought toothpaste like she did.

All five kids from this family wore homespun jerseys, were strictly vegetarian and had that distinct, wild, ’raised on fresh, mountain stream water and goats milk’ look around them.  Compared with such a family, well Morrissey Lass’s one looked bog standard.  Which was fortunate.

I’ll fly…

If I walk in the light (as You are),

if I own all the twists and the turns

in my soul,

if I run quickly to Redemption’s side,

I’ll find grace that gives wings to my weakest hour.

 

So I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly

to the arms open wide that receive me

and I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly

to what’s safe and won’t harm and won’t leave me.

 

If I hung on a cross next to Love,

would I drink that sweet mercy extended to me?

Or, dismissing I truly was lost,

would I hold tight to my life and my proud disbelief?

 

But I see in the face of my Christ

that He knows, that He knows,

yes He knows me.

 

And I see in the face of my Christ,

He will not put His hand

to my demise.

 

So I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly

to the One who is always for me.

 

And I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly, yes I’ll fly

to great Love that bends low to meet me.

 

Scenes from the 9th floor (Beijing)

Nine stories up is a great vantage point to take in the city life below. 

As I let my gaze wander, I can hear the persisiting scraping and banging of renovations going on next door; A young couple soon to be married are refurbishing their new apartment to their taste.  Andrew tells me that on saying their ‘I do’ equivalents, her inlaws will move in with the happy newlyweds to begin all of their lives together…!  Gulp.  No thanks.

From my seat on the window sill I have spied two lovers, on their way to who-knows-where, pausing long enough for him to pick a pink bud out of a flower bed to put in her hair.  Amusingly, this surprisingly tender act is done with such a deadpan expression he might as well have been giving her a stick of chewing gum , but I suppose its the thought that counts.

On the neatly paved walkway in the complex of high rise apartment blocks across the way, a granny takes her toddler granddaughter out for a pee and a stroll.  This is a common sight – small children abluting on sidewalks or outside posh posh shopping complexes – so even this gweilo has stopped taking double-takes.  Although I am yet again reminded to burn all my shoes once I get home…

It is a drizzly day in Beijing China, which does not stop any muggyness;  It does have the fortunate affect of making the pollution look like mist so I can convince myself on at least this day that I have not passively smoked an entire box of cigarettes…

I look forward to wending my way home to Africa land.  My travel bag is packed and bulging with presents for family and friends.  I wonder if I will be fortunate enough to visit China Land again…

Deep breathing

There is not a breath of wind in Beijing China this day, which means that the smog lies so densely across, in and around the city it feels like a smothering hug, an overcast afternoon minus any welcomed chill.  If you do manage to find the sun (by craning your neck and looking up past the tall line buildings all around you) you will realise it is hotly blazing like on any summer day, neatly perched in blue skies, that cannot be fathomed under all this pollution.  There are now TEN million bicycles … and few blue skies in Beijing it would seem.

 

 

Getting around

My family and I seem to be acclimatising to China land – the heat is not that hot, the distances are not that far and the menus not that foreign or surprising (i sampled tendon on a kebab stick last night, an oddly tasty and chewy experience…) 

Beijing as a ‘walking city’ is quite a novelty.  Beijingers walk, full stop.  They walk to work if they can, to the shops often.  They walk to meals and from meals.  If they eat at home, then they often go for a walk afterwards (9pm…10pm… whatever) because it is healthy to settle your meal this way, the air outside cools down at night and it is pleasant to mingle with friends and be among the population, I guess.  And to take your dog out to pee and poop!

My mom and I have becomer late night walkers too.  Our little flatlet in which we crash each night is a 2km walk from my brother’s apartment – through one shopping centre (to cool down), across one of the biggest roads I have ever had to negotiate, with its constant stream of traffic, and past plenty locals sitting outside on the city streets, around small tables, cooling down for the eve.

Mom and i enter at least one dark alleyway on the way to apartment, feeling completely safe.  Looked at (as foreigners), yes, but in no danger of mugging, assault or rape. How refreshing.

Something about the humidity/berg wind atmosphere makes this late night trekking a bit of a dizzying experience, though.  But still, the walking is novel.