I did something yesterday I never thought I'd do. I met up with the 'Harmonie Hotties'. The name coming from the fact that we were all residents of Harmonie Hostel (Stellenbosch) from 1979/80 and 'want ons is hot!' said Hanlie - one of powerhouses behind the reunion of sorts. It all came about because my best friend at the time, Belinda (Eigelaar) found me on face-book and the connection grew from there. Facebook is really good at resuscitating networks from way-back-when. In this case, thirty two years had elapsed and there they were just like always. Tersia, who was always very friendly and did duty signing us in and out (we had a 7 o'clock week-day curfew) and if boys wanted to visit they also had to sign in and the couple would then get a 'vry kamer'. She was horrified when I reminded her she had 'dooped' me and apologized profusely for her part in it. A teacher in Beaufort West now, she said 'we don't do that kind of breaking down stuff anymore.' There was also Karine, Nelia, Doreen and Marguerite who I remember well from those days. What was amazing was not only how little we had changed but how the society around us had changed. I don't speak Afrikaans as well as I used to and Belinda and I have switched to English (with a lot of Afrikaans thrown in) which I'm very grateful for. Nelia remembered me as 'jy was mos baaie Engels' which both Belinda and I challenged. At the time I was trying very hard to 'pass for Afrikaans'. After all, I grew up in Namaqualand! I wrote all my undergrad assignments in Afrikaans and only switched to English in my honours and masters years. The change I noticed was that the others were quite willing and proficient in communicating with me in English and many conversations were one sentence English and one in Afrikaans. Enough about the language issue.
The lunch was an elaborate affair (lots of Woolworths stuff) at the home of Carol at Kleine Zalze a golf estate just outside Stellenbosch and Tersia did a superb braai. There were some speeches. A long prayer by Tersia followed by Ricci with a poem and very apt and heartfelt stuff about what we really want to know about each other after all this time. It seems like many like myself have had major crises: abuse, divorce and, in my case, hitting the glass ceiling and there were tears when some spoke about this. There was a funny incident when the chatter rose during Ricci's speech. 'Ek het jou nie ge-interrupt toe jy gebid het nie!' she said to Tersia who responded after a short while by holding up a handwritten sign with '5 minutes' on it.
The experience gave me renewed hope for my novel-writing. I had considered allocating my first one (You can't make love to a Mountain which I am renaming the Daisy Chain) to the dustbin as it were. It's just too personal. And maybe I should just accept it is what it is, a memoir that is to be read only by close friends (not family or the public at large). But having met up with Marguerite, who is also in the publishing industry, I have some renewed ideas for the book. In the mean time I'm struggling with the first chapter of the second novel. Now that I've written it through from beginning to end and taken my editor's advice of writing the second draft WITHOUT REFERRING TO THE FIRST!! Quel horreur!! I'm starting again at the beginning and making sure each sentence and word has a reason to be there. Fellow writers will agree this is a hard task. But now that I'm installed in my new place (just waiting for Telkom to connect me to the internet), my writing should go more smoothly and hopefully I'll progress more quickly than before.
P.S. I also sold five copies of my book on the German Settlers!