Suitcases and Empty Spaces

Nothing sounds like polyurethane suitcase wheels bumping over bricks. You could record that sound and play it to anyone and they’d be able to tell in a second it’s the sound of a suitcase being wheeled around, it’s the sound of someone arriving or someone leaving.

This morning it was the sound of my girlfriend starting our new life by herself. It kills me that I couldn’t be there with her, stepping onto that plane together, hand in hand to face whatever the future brings. Instead I’m left behind, sitting on my bed in a room as bare as it was before she moved in.

And round and round in my head the same line from the same song plays on infinite repeat.

Baby I’ve been here before, I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor, you know I used to live alone before I knew ya…

I never bothered to decorate my bedroom before J-Rab moved in. It was functional; bed, bedside table, lamp, bookshelf, washing basket. Patrick Bateman would have loved it. Then she arrived with her photographs and her drawings and her Indian elephants and her stars and the space I lived in came alive.



I’ll never forget the Saturday when her and Jenni-fuh busied themselves for hours cutting little golden moons and stars and spaceships out of some wrapping paper they found and sticking them up on our living room wall. It wasn’t long after I started this blog if I remember correctly, you can go here if you want to read that post.

I arrived home on Friday to find J-Rab taking the last of those stars down. There’s only a tiny crescent moon left, high up where her and Jenni-Fuh asked me to put it, too close to the ceiling for either of them to reach.

I think I’ll leave it up there.

We drove most of the way to the airport in silence this morning, her hand resting lightly on my thigh as I drove, and ironically, it was one of the most beautiful mornings Joburg has had in weeks.

“Well, at least Joburg is giving you a nice farewell,” I said.

“Yeah, great. It pisses down with rain for almost the entire summer, then on the day I leave the weather couldn’t be better.”

“Heh heh, yeah,” I chuckled, “asshole city.”

The man at the check-in counter told us J-Rab’s luggage was 2 kilos over the limit and looked like he was going to do something about it until the two of us verbally clothes-lined the motherfucker.



“C’mon, she’s moving her whole life down to Cape Town, everything! How the hell do you expect her to keep to your ridiculous 20kg limit? So she’s 2 kgs over, I’m pretty sure the plane’s still going to be able to take off. Please dude, help us out here, this is an emotional time for us both…”

Of course he let it slide. Only problem was J-Rab’s overhead luggage was the size of a St Bernard, but he let that slide too. We make a great team, my lioness and me. I wouldn’t want to fuck with us.

I held her for a long time before she went through the departures gate, but it wasn’t long enough. I watched her take her laptop out of her bag and put it through the x-ray machine along with the St Bernard and then put it back in on the other side.

She turned and waved one last time, I waved too. I swallowed hard.

I spent the rest of the morning at Peggles’ flat – he was actually arriving back from Cape Town at the same time J-Rab was leaving so I gave him a lift from the airport back to his flat and drank coffee there and tried to enjoy the morning.

By lunchtime it was pissing down again and I drove through the deluge back home and wandered aimlessly around the flat, opening the cupboards, staring into the fridge, stacking the dirty dishes but not washing them, eating the couscous salad J-Rab made us for dinner last night and then finally collapsing onto the bed with all my clothes on and falling into a restless sleep.

We watched Dexter until 3 in the morning together, season two, we had to finish it before she left because it’s not the same watching it alone. I think I dreamed about it, but I can’t be sure.

I know I dreamed about something.

She called once she’d arrived at our new place and took some pictures with her phone and sent them to me.

I found myself squinting at them, trying to get a feel for the place, weighing up the pros and cons. Here the pictures are. It’s weird to think this is going to be the place where I’m going to live and you, a bunch of perfect strangers mostly, know as much about how it looks as I do.




Tomorrow I’ll wake up and look at this city with new eyes. I’ll drive down the same roads I have been for years, but they’ll carry a certain charm that they didn’t before and the tiny details that make up this city will jump out at me, larger than life because in two weeks and two days, I’m packing everything up and hitting the open road.

In my mind I can see myself pulling into the dusty driveway of the wooden house where we’re going to live and I can see her running out the front door, her henna-red hair moving in slow waves as the afternoon sun sets quietly behind us, and the distance between us closes for the last time.

It’s not long now… not long at all.


3 Responses to “Suitcases and Empty Spaces”

  1. 1 Jax
    February 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Dude, when you heading to Kaapstad…who you gonna call? Seriously though, good blog, if not very sad…I will be going through the same shit in exactly 4 months when my woman leaves for JHB for a years worth of community service. Eish…why does life do that to you? Perhaps another blog in its entirety?

    If I read it all right though, you should be gracing our shores with your presence and that excites me!

    Peace and love man and hopefully our paths will cross somewhere besides cyberspace in the near future.


    • February 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

      I’m calling YOUR ass mofo! Time for that long overdue drink I reckon, I’ll look you up once the dust has settled. I’m down on the 24th, just over two weeks. The times they are a changin’ dude, the times they are a changin’ 😉

      So you’re going to be doing the long distance thing soon too? I sympathise dude, it’s like slow torture, but if you can survive that, you can survive ANYTHING. Just make sure your Skype is up and running or the phone bills will kick your ass!

      Chat soon dude.


  2. 3 KC
    February 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    The Time will fly. I’ve done this for 9 months and 2 months moving around the world. It doesn’t get any easier, but Cape Town is great and something to look forward to at least

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