House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents -

For Mal­i­bongwe Tyilo, it’s not just where you live, but how

I’ve lived in four South African cities. As a stu­dent I stayed in Port El­iz­a­beth, East Lon­don, and then Jo­han­nes­burg all in fairly quick suc­ces­sion, be­fore choos­ing Cape Town as my home to­wards the end of 1999. Then there was a time when Cape Town and I al­most broke up. In 2007 I de­cided to move back to Joburg to work at the head of­fice of a ma­jor cloth­ing re­tailer.

I’d vis­ited Jo­han­nes­burg a few times in the years since I left it in 1999, and had a some­what ro­man­tic, nos­tal­gic rec­ol­lec­tion of the cou­ple of years I spent there as a stu­dent, liv­ing in mid-to-late-’90s Yeoville, and later, Nor­wood’s Grant Av­enue. But some­thing in me was dif­fer­ent when I landed on 16 July 2007. Years of coastal liv­ing and easy ac­cess to nat­u­ral beauty had ir­re­versibly af­fected how I liked to live.

Over the year that fol­lowed, I spent time get­ting reac­quainted with the City of Gold. On a few oc­ca­sions, I tried to in­cor­po­rate the scenic drives I loved so much in Cape Town into my Joburg life: a trip to Parys, an­other to the Ma­galies­berg. But those mo­ments felt so de­tached from my day-to-day life. So a year and three months after mov­ing back to Joburg, shortly be­fore my 30th birth­day, once again I packed up for Cape Town.

For­tu­nately, my part­ner was also ready to make a change. We loaded ev­ery­thing we could into my tiny car and made the jour­ney in search of a qual­ity of life that was bet­ter aligned with our tem­per­a­ments. And for that first cou­ple of years back in the Western Cape, al­most ev­ery week­end in­cluded some sort of pic­turesque road trip. When­ever we could, bud­get al­low­ing, we’d book into some small town. Moun­tain hikes and sea­side jogs even­tu­ally be­came a reg­u­lar part of our lives.

The big­gest les­son of the past decade has been that as much as I love a break from the city, it should never be an event so re­moved from my daily life that it’s some­thing I only do for a cou­ple of weeks at some point in the year. No. The el­e­ments I like in a hol­i­day should be mo­ments I am able to en­joy in smaller doses through­out the year, with­out in­cur­ring ridicu­lous ex­penses.

I’ve be­come a bit of a worka­holic more re­cently. But be­ing able to jump into my car and en­joy a Sun­day drive around the Cape Penin­sula, or per­haps a Satur­day re­lax­ing on a la­goon at the West Coast Na­tional Park, feels like a get­away. Even a sim­ple morn­ing walk up the city bowl’s Lion’s Head sprin­kles a bit of hol­i­day dust into my days.

Re­al­is­ing that has led to other changes in my life; after many years of try­ing, I’ve fi­nally set­tled on a sys­tem that makes it pos­si­ble to work com­pletely as a free­lancer. Yes, my work­days are of­ten longer than they were when I had to go into an of­fice. And some weeks are seven-day work pe­ri­ods. But none of it feels like a strain. Other than when I go out to in­ter­view peo­ple or for meet­ings, I do my work from home, sur­rounded by fa­mil­iar tex­tures of my own choos­ing – and while I do like to dress up, some days are spent toil­ing in my py­ja­mas.

Just the other day, halfway through my work­ing day, I got tired of sit­ting in front of my com­puter and I was crav­ing a snack. I re­mem­bered I had a bag of sesame seeds and a cou­ple of cans of chick­peas. So I made tahini and then hum­mus. I’m not a big fan of bak­ing bread, so I popped out to the cute – and mildly pre­ten­tious – new neigh­bour­hood store for a loaf of sour­dough to make toast. There was no rush and I took far more time than I should have taken. A cou­ple of hours later I got back to the com­puter, feel­ing re­laxed, and I worked into the night.

Of course, not ev­ery job can be done from home, and some oc­cu­pa­tions re­quire us to live where we do. But I think a good place for all of us to start is by think­ing about the qual­ity of life that we want – not just when we go on hol­i­day or when we re­tire, but ev­ery day. And then to find ways to in­ject that qual­ity into our lives. For me, that in­cluded mov­ing cities and com­pletely chang­ing the way I make my liv­ing. mal­i­bongwe

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