At the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek, an man in his seventies held what appeared to be his grandson upside down in order for him to smell all the roses. The child was squealing with delight, and the grandfather was smiling, too. A happy little postcard memory.
At Yoav's concert in the Kirstenbosch Gardens, a girl was playing with her mother's hair.
Another little girl told my sister she likes her because she has "dots" (freckles) on her face.
Also at Yoav, one could witness the worried measuring of height in the eyes of a mother turning around to the call of her son's voice and finding him in the branches of a tree.
There is this photograph of the two of us, I am around seven years old, all blond-blue-eyed innocence. I lie against the fold of his stomach, counting flowers, he provides the love to lean on.
That is what it should have been like, til death, not difference, do us apart.
A year and a continent later, he is running behind me as I dart down the stairwell, trying to catch me. My castle is outside, furnished with enough blankets and a high-chair for my dolls to block him from coming in. I reach it in time and build my fort. He paces around in front of it, telling me to come out, ordering me to come out. A dragon in waiting. I won't be fooled. For days we don't talk. Even when it is my birthday I won't forgive. And now, many years and continents and opinions later, well, for months we don't talk and there is nothing to forgive any more because of choices made and lives lived apart.
As children, we search for the hand that will guide us though shopping malls and crowded spaces and won't lose us. We rely on that hand to hold on to the bike when the training wheels have come off but we're still too scared to pedal onwards alone. There is the protective spell of innocence uncorrupted by the bad in each other which life will hurl at us soon enough. There is also the real time protection of parents and family and siblings and whomever is in our lives to guide us.
The best memories are not the presents I got or the places we visited, but rather being treated to a strawberry milkshake at Wimpy by my grandmother because I ran errands with her all day, or my mom driving all the way from Pretoria to Jeffrey's while we were sleeping on the backseat of the Merc, or identifying cars in Geneva's morning rush hour, or building a tipi under the giant oak, or listening to Celine Dion for the millionth time. The best memories stem from being enveloped by love, and not worrying whether or not the hand would hold on.