I know. It has been months! Too many months…
I feel like I am writing to a long lost and neglected friend. And I feel the urge to apologise for being so quiet, but I am not going to. Life just happened and I had no real anything to write about.
Not that I haven’t been busy! It has been a very hectic few months from all viewpoints! I am finally settling in in my new job, I watched my daughter perform in her very first full length ballet and have carried on spending as much time as possible with friends, going to pop-up bars in Joburg, going to the theatre, watching the Joburg opera perform in an old revamped warehouse in Jozi. It has indeed been a friendship (and family) year.
Yesterday morning, I touched down in London. I am officially on holiday and I travelled through the night with Bianca to London. And I realised that this story is worth sharing.
Bianca has had many friends in her life and her friendships have made me proud. She is a good friend, loyal and absolutely herself. But in the last few years she forged a friendship that I can recognise as a friendship for life. CJ is more like a sister. I love listening to them when they’re together. They tease each other, hug each other and bring out the best in each other.
I was very sad for Bianca when she changed schools this year, as she would not see CJ that much, but didn’t worry too much because true friendships can grow stronger with distance. And it did. They didn’t see each other that regularly, but boy did they make up for it when they did.
And then CJ found out that they were immigrating to the UK. I watched them deal with the pending loss over the next few months. I watched them making huge efforts to see each other. I watched them make plans for farewells and I watched them discuss visits.
Bianca said she wanted to go and visit CJ in London in December this year. That was a tricky one, as she was supposed to be with her dad this year Christmas, so before even considering the cost, it wasn’t my place to give permission. But he agreed and she was ecstatic! When I started looking at tickets, I realised that it would be my ‘alone’ Christmas as well so started thinking I should go to London with her….
I was worried that Anya would feel left out and initially when I told her, she said she wanted to go with. But when she found out we would not be going to Cape Town this year at all, she was terribly disappointed as she has a close friend in Cape Town that she sees every year we go down there. So I offered her the choice, London with us or Cape Town for a week with her friend Kathryn. She chose friendship too…
Over the last few months we have been making some plans. I have been to London so many times but haven’t done much sightseeing since the first time, about 17 years ago. And at the time some of my sightseeing plans were cut short as a result of a pickpocket incident on Leicester Square. So, I am looking forward to tackling the ‘places to see’ list but also to show Bianca around some of my favourite haunts.
In the last few weeks the girls both started counting down the days. We had to do some warm clothes shopping which added to the anticipation and when we finally sat down in the airport lounge on Thursday evening, the excitement was palpable!
After an 11 hour flight, I was relieved that the queues at the UK Border control was short and after a bit of a wait, we collected our luggage. And then we stepped through the arrivals gates. Faces everywhere! Bianca mumbled something about feeling nervous about finding them. We moved a few steps forward, scanning the crowd. And the next moment we saw her. CJ was running down the arrivals exit, ignoring barriers, straight into Bianca’s arms. I grabbed Bianca’s suitcase and they embraced for what felt like forever. I watched them with tears in my eyes, and wished I had a video camera to capture that moment. But it is edged in my mind.
CJ still had school yesterday and Bianca cuddled up in her bed waiting for her yesterday morning. In the afternoon, I smiled at the bantering and laughing. We had a quiet afternoon and evening, fitting a bit of sightseeing of the local towns, Maidenhead and Marlow into the schedule. Today we will have our first outing to London Town, and I am looking forward to creating some awesome memories.
I know the farewell will be very sad, I am sure tears will be shed, but they will remember and treasure this time together forever.
A perfect Christmas gift.