I find myself strangely in one of those awkward-life-phases. It’s not quite the everyone-is-getting-engaged/married/having babies phase, because it’s a) not new new anymore b) I’m genuinely happy when people reach this phase of their lives and c) I guess I was one of the first few to start hitting these milestones. So what is this strange life-phase I’m finding myself in? It’s that all my close friends are leaving Cape Town. It feels like everyone is moving on – except us (or well, me).
Which i kind of ironic. I’ve graduated from University with a degree. I’ve gotten a boyfriend, dated, gotten engaged and subsequently married (I mean, we’re about to hit the 2 year mark early next year!). We both have good jobs and are in a good place financially. These are things that our friends are going and moving in the hope of achieving. We already have all of these, so why do I feel like I’m getting left behind?
People leaving isn’t new though. As religious Jews, many leave the beautiful Cape Town shores for Johannesburg, either for work, the bigger Jewish community or the potential of finding someone to marry. I’m lucky my friends all studied in Cape Town so for those years I had plenty friends to see and socialise with at all times. It was after graduating that people started leaving. Obviously I’ve been ok with it, and happy for my friends. Who is unhappy for a friend when they’re moving on in their lives to greater and more exciting things? I just feel it’s starting to catch up with me, and it’s starting to feel a little lonely.
I find myself in a very lucky position that I see most of my friends on a weekly basis. I think that’s the nice thing about being “frum” (read: a religious Jew). You see a lot of your friends at shul on Shabbos. People come to our community, we go to other parts of Cape Town so we really get to see people. I must say that the added bonus of no internet technology or smartphones over this time really deepens the quality of those hours you spend together with friends. It forces catching up face-to-face, bonding over meals (Jews and food, naturally), and encourages social activities like walks on the beach and playing board games. I’ve made some really special friends over the years.
I think it’s come to the point where I’m on my last handful of close friends, and they’ll be moving at the end of this year too. I’m so lucky I have Greg, it’s true, I’ll be in good company for the rest of my life, sure I know that. But it doesn’t replace girl time, or having a nice big social group to hang out with. Greg and I can’t just be “the two of us” all the time.
Every year the Jewish Agency and other organisations send Israeli’s down for the year, in different capacities. In the last couple of years they’ve sent a set of girls down to work for our youth movement. Greg and I live a stone-throw away from their house, and have become incredibly close with them each year. One of this year’s girls left a few months ago, and the other is leaving on Monday. It’s terribly heartbreaking this whole making-friends-for-a-year-and-then-saying goodbye. It’s almost starting to get old, and emotionally exhausting. These friendships are very different because they’re not based on school, university or work. They really reach so deep. The girls for this year (Israeli’s work on a northern hemisphere “year” ie September – June) have just arrived. They are incredibly sweet, and I know we’ll become great friends. It’s just hard. Greg and I already feel guilty, like we’re “replacing” the girls from years before. Is that weird? Probably. I guess I know I’ll have 2 new friends, at least for another year (until the age-gap grows so big and I’m practically a “mom” in their eyes. Oy. Too soon)
I don’t know where this will leave us in a few years time. Will people move to Cape Town? Will we suddenly make a large new group of friends? Will we suddenly make a whole new crowd of “parent” friends when we one day have kids? Are we just getting old? What on earth is happening here (I’m not even 25?! Is this a quarter life crisis?!). I really don’t know. For now, I’m just so unready to leave Cape Town. I honestly love it here.
Oh life, you funny bugger, you.