OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
I love oysters. I have loved them ever since my twenty-ninth birthday when a friend taught me to eat them at the old La Colombe Restaurant. The taste of the sea, the texture, the exciting ways they can be served and enjoyed. But I don’t miss them during my oysterhood, the same way I don’t miss my friends. Why? Because I know that they will not disappear if I stay at home. The oysters will be waiting. My first restaurant outing will be probably to a place that serves oysters. I have a few ideas. It will be a festive occasion one way or another. There will be bubbly, pink preferably, and local, of course! And my Friends will be there. Until then, I will not miss them. I would rather not see them for a few weeks, even months; I just don’t want to have to go to their funerals. Or worse, not even be allowed to go to their funerals…
I woke up to rain. Took out the bin and it was collected. Fed cats, made coffee, put in a load of laundry into the washing machine. Watched the rain from the stoep. Mozart came in, although usually he doesn’t mind the rain. I read with Glinka on my chest.
Phoned my Mom. She went to the cemetery on Saturday. It was her brother’s name day. He died many years ago at a young age and is buried in Austria. It has always been strange to think about the reason for his death, but even more so to think of it now: my uncle was one of a only a handful people who died of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Austria at the time when the disease was on its killing spree across Europe. Often, when I think of him, I also think of that Gabriel García Márquez quote: ‘We have still not had a death. A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.’ I belong to Poland, Austria and South Africa in that sense. But I have no need to belong more now.
I decided to get dressed for work today. A new top that my Mom gave me when I visited her for Christmas.
But when I spoke to my friend Michela on Skype before noon, she was still in her PJs and looking great. She is the one who once told me: ‘listen to your body, it never lies’. My body is saying that my cheeks are sore, and I refuse to stress about not having done much work today after all. But I did write emails to family and friends and order a book that I can’t wait to read from Clarke’s Bookshop today. They send out wonderful book recommendations during lockdown. I will pay once I have the invoice tomorrow and pick up the book when I can – safely – go out of the house again.
I heard a man speak on eNCA today about identifying locations for potential mass grave sites in South Africa. No wonder my cheeks are sore.
My lovely neighbours phoned yesterday to ask for books from my library. In consultation with them on the phone, I prepared a book bag for them and handed it over the wall. I made a new batch of kombucha. The latest is beyond delicious and might not last until the new one is ready.
And just before writing this blog post, I sent out an email to the wonderful Readers who once a month, on the first Monday, gather in my home and talk about books with me during what we call our ‘Literary Salon’. We couldn’t meet this month and I doubt it will be safe to meet in May, so I asked them to send me news of what they are reading and have been enjoying recently via email, if they felt like sharing. We usually have wine and snacks and talk for hours, but an email will do for now. I opened a bottle of red from the lockdown supply I got from my love who usually brings wine to our gatherings, and said cheers to the camera just after 6pm, before sending the literary salon notes to my Friends.
I don’t miss you, but I can’t wait to see you all again.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.