To Durban, with love

I grew up in a little slice of paradise.

And it took me leaving to realise.

In Durban, South Africa, you’ll find blue skies, palm trees and stretches of sandy beaches. Durban is home to long, hot summers and ‘cold’, dry winters that have its inhabitants wrapped up and wishing for December.

It’s home to many people, different places and different faces. It’s home to me.

So here’s to you, Durban.

Here’s to the sun and the salty blue ocean. Here’s to Christmas in the summer and ripping open presents in sunshine. Here’s to charcoal, chlorine and SPF50 – the smells of my childhood.

Here’s to tiptoeing over the burning heat of the beach, jumping into patches of shade or “accidentally” stepping on strangers towels to reach the relief of the ocean. Here’s to sandy shoes, sandy hair and sandy everywhere.

Here’s to peeling sunburns, to skin that goes from pale to pink to angry red. And here’s to trying not to wince when mom pulls a bottle of after-sun from the fridge, here’s to anticipating the ice-cold freeze and to cringing when the gel meets my skin anyway.

Here’s to ja bru, lekker and I’ll be there now now. Here’s to talking funny and not caring. To nah-ce , Ah-ce and Fush (nice, ice, fish).

Here’s to the pigeons on the North Beach Promenade. To being five years old, buying a bag of bird feed for R2 and standing with my arms spread out like Christ the Redeemer while dozens of feathered bodies flocked to me.

Here’s to soft serve cones and sticky fingers. Here’s to racing to finish my my ice cream before the humidity turned it into a watery mess.

Here’s to being ten minutes from the beach and three hours from the mountains.

Here’s to sweating through classes all through Jan and Feb. To wishing for air-conditioning or at least for a really big fan. To the small joy that was getting to swim during PE.

Here’s to having a school with the most incredible view and never appreciating it until I was gone.

Here’s to wrapping up in scarves and beanies when the temperature drops below 20’c. Here’s to freaking out in the mornings on the way to school when the car showed that it was 12 degrees outside. Here’s to always hoping for snow in winter.

Here’s to Eskom and loadshedding and those few intense moments when the lights went out at night and I crossed my fingers hoping that it was just a tripped switch. Here’s to the disappointment that came with stepping outside to see a sea of darkness.

Here’s to studying for matric finals by candlelight and the bated breaths and nervous hands that came with waking up on results morning in January.

Here’s to my first shot, the first time I was asked for ID; to Florida Road, Raffles Bonkers and tequila Tuesdays.

Here’s to being too old to go out in this town anymore.

Here’s to leaving for university but coming back in the holidays to the comfort of Durban.

Here’s to eThekwini; to learning isiZulu and being too scared to speak it past ‘hello, how are you?’ for fear of getting something wrong and looking stupid. Here’s to kicking myself for not being brave enough.

Here’s to the dichotomy of Durban; to the thousands of white-walled, green-roofed houses next to the N2 and the dilapidated high rises in the CBD.Here’s to the juxtaposition of central streets full of people, who shouldn’t have to live the way they do, leading to the lavishness of the point and uShaka beach.

Here’s to uShaka itself; to the fish in an upside down ship, to Dolphins by candlelight and slides so high that only childhood recklessness got me down one.

Here’s to Sunday braais; to hearing the opening tune of Carte Blanche and Derrick Watts saying good evening and knowing it was back to work the next day.

Here’s to breakfasts at Wimpy and birthdays at Spur. Here’s to walks along the promenade with my dog – my furry best friend. And the walks without her after she left this life – old but happy I hope.

Here’s to bringing my baby brothers back from Westville hospital and watching them grow up barefoot and sunkissed – just like I did.

Here’s to my parents for making that possible. To them being brave enough to leave Scotland and make a life here in South Africa.

Here’s to the place where I spoke my first words, took my first steps, and made my first friend.

Here’s to saying my first ‘I love you’, and then to saying my most treasured one. Here’s to Durban playing host to my first heartbreak.

And here’s to my worst heartbreak.

Here’s to the sun rising and knowing it’s going to be okay.

Here’s to life, love, family and hope. Most importantly, here’s to my little slice of paradise; my home always.

Here’s to you, Durban, with love.




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