Looking back to 1985, I realise that the year was one of the formative times of my life. The beginning of 1985 heralded a change: I was leaving behind my high school years and entering my first year at university. University was an eye-opener for me: my academic life was no longer governed by teachers who expected me to think as they do; I was attending school with other races (growing up in Apartheid South Africa I had been to school with only other children of my race); I was attending classes of subjects that interested me.
It was at university that I discovered what I truly believed in; and I learned to speak out about it. One of my favourite songs from that era was Shout by Tears for Fears:
I fit in at university like I hadn’t before. I was able to express myself and explore so much. I definitely belonged in the life that working for my degree brought to me: time spent in the library doing research and reading; lunches with friends on the lawns; discussions with classmates in between lectures on topics that interested. It was during this time that I became a Sting fan (I had previously listened to the music created by The Police).
Music was always a pat of my life – I did not play it but I always listened to the efforts of musicians. Music accompanied me through my university years – and followed me when I began working. Thinking back on those years brings to mind the songs that I used to enjoy daily. Another singer I enjoyed listening to during this time was Bryan Adams. Loved his song Run To You. I was so excited when many years later I had the chance to see him perform live.
I may no longer be striding through the spaces of my alma mater, but from time to time I do listen to the music of that era. While singing along to the songs of 1985, my memories take me back to a time when I was fresh out of high school and exploring the new-found freedom of university life.
What songs do you think of when you look back to 1985?
On Saturday I visited St Jacob’s market with my cousin. It is a lengthy drive to visit the market but we love to do it for so many reasons: the market is huge; the prices are reasonable; the fruit and vegetables are freshly picked; and it gets us out of the city. Another reason is that there is a Dutch store in one of the buildings.
The both of us enjoy browsing in the store as it brings back pleasant childhood memories. One of the memories that play back in my mind is of my aunt (my cousin’s mom) preparing us a snack with toast and flavoured sprinkles. I used to devour freshly baked bread slathered with butter and topped with chocolate sprinkles. The best snack ever for a 10 year old!
During the past week, visiting the Dutch store at St Jacob’s market brought a smile to my face. It is always good to go down memory lane once in a while.
Have you tasted any of the Dutch sprinkles showcased in the photo?
On Saturday evening while we were having dinner, my daughter mentioned the song that was part of the sing-along at their school’s annual music concert. The song took me back years to when I was a teenager. I tried humming the tune for my husband to see if he remembered it but eventually I had to grab the iPad and show it to him.
Do you remember Toto’s song Africa? I remember loving the cool rhythms of it and humming it while doing chores. There is an honesty about the song now as I am listening to it decades later: the music is not as synthesised as so much of the new music (though I do love some of it). While listening to the song, I see in my mind’s eye my cousins and the friends that listened to it with me. The song is definitely linked to good memories for me.
Attending university. At the tertiary institution, I found my voice and learned to express my opinion. I had always been a quiet child and at school was hardly noticed. While at university I found my confidence and came to realise that my opinion and actions do count for something.
My first full-time job as a teacher. I chose to work at what, at that time, was labelled a street school: an environment created for high school students in the centre of Johannesburg. Here I taught children who did not have access to schooling in the townships. Teaching children of a race with whom I had hardly come into contact, broadened my horizons. I also felt that I was contributing positively to my society.
Spending a year in Europe. During this time I was completely on my own and I was forced to do things for myself. I certainly grew in independence.
Buying my own home. As a teacher, I did not earn much money in South Africa. To supplement my income, I worked at two other jobs and was finally able to buy a place of my own. I loved living in my own space.
Getting married – to both a man and his child. Getting married and living with someone else forces a person to compromise. Sometimes a lot. And moving in with a teenager was not easy.
Relocating to another country. Luckily I did not have to learn another language – even though Canadian English is a little different to the English I was used to. Learning the ropes and how another country worked was not easy with two toddlers constantly in my company.
Complete this sentence: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s…
Superman! This phrase always makes me think of my childhood and when we used to listen to the stories on Springbok Radio in the afternoon after school. I remember sitting around the radio with my sisters eagerly listening to the exciting tales broadcast over the radio.
What genre of music do you like?
I love any music that I can dance to. There are times when I am in the mood for classical music but that does not happen too often. Currently I am listening to music that is played in Zumba classes. The better you know a song, the better you know the timing and when movement will change. The result? You can listen to the music and allow it to lead you into movement.
When I was growing up, our extended family used to get together often. Aunts and uncles, and many cousins. We experienced Sunday picnics in the parks, lunchtime braais (barbecues) at someone’s house, and Saturday night parties. For my family, parties always included dancing. Everyone would dance – the young and the old. I remember laughter, movement, … and ABBA.
Dancing Queen was a must on the playlist, causing everyone to get up and dance. This track was often followed by Waterloo.
When I listen to ABBA now, I remember those moments with my family before the children grew up and the family seemed to disband. I think of my cousin who was such an ABBA fan that he had all of their albums. I think of my uncle who led the dancing to the popular Swedish group. I think of the joy and security we had as children when all of the cousins got together. I think of carefree moments. For me, the sounds of ABBA bring many positive memories to mind.
Do you have any memories linked to ABBA’s music. Which one was your favourite?
A song has been going through my mind recently, reminding me of my early teens and my cousin who is a few years older than me. He loved pretending he was playing the electric guitar while singing his favourite songs. I recall late Sunday afternoons singing with him and his sisters while our parents were chatting in the lounge. In my mind’s eye, I can see him prancing around my aunt’s large bedroom as if he were a famous pop star. Among other songs, he would belt out Billy Idol’s White Wedding when it was playing on the radio.
There are days when I feel I will never forget: the memories of my childhood, my loved ones who have passed from this world, the moments I glided across the dance floor, the children I have helped experience learning. There are days when I believe that the special moments in my life will be in my mind forever: the time I laughed so hard with my grandmother and godfather that the tears rolled down our cheeks; the time I walked up on the stage to receive my first university degree; the time I held my baby in my arms for the first time. As I think back on my life, the moments flicker continuously in my mind. Happy moments, exciting moments, moments of dread and anguish.
There are days when I feel I will never forget. Even though I forget to buy an item on my mental grocery list ,or where I have put away a sheet of paper, the memories of my dear ones and my past stay with me. In moments of solitude and quiet, I think back on my history. Do I have regrets? Sometimes. Do I long for those moments again? Sometimes. But each time I look back, it is with a grateful heart that I have been able to live my life.
There are days when I feel I will never forget. And I hope I never will.
This morning I washed a couple of the pillows that adorn my daughters’ beds. As I lay them out to dry, I smiled. I recalled their excitement when they received these cushions as a gift – I can see their wide smiles in my mind’s eye.
They were huge fans of the Dora the Explorer programme. They would sit/stand in front of the TV, answer her questions, and vamonos! with her to various places.
I bought my girls a few of the DVDs and they watched them over, and over …. and over again. I did not mind as I knew they were learning from the repetition – and I believe the show to be an educational one.
As the cushions reflect the past and stir memories of my children’s childhood, I thought the picture deserved to be presented in black & white. Even though the colours have been taken away, the cushions still evoke pleasant memories.
Have you watched the children’s show Dora the Explorer? What do you think of it?
Last night for dinner, my husband made a delicious curry. He called it a bit “peppy” which means that it was a little hot. My daughter sang the words, “My mouth, my mouth, my mouth is on fire!” to the tune of Follow the Leader. As always, the song made me think of when I used to compete in Ballroom and Latin American competitions. They always played this song during the interval and it was fun to “follow the leader” and do the line dance. It was especially fun to see all the competitors in their costumes moving to music for the pure enjoyment of moving to the music.
It has been decades since I have danced to this song in a large group. It will, however, always hold pleasant memories for me.
Before I woke up this morning, I was in a beautiful dream. Or more a memory. I was dancing the way I used to: gliding across the floor in time to the music. I was with the friends I used to spend time with at dance socials, lessons, and competitions. I glowed with the pleasure I felt while moving to music.
Dance is something that I miss in my life – and I have for a long time. My husband and I mention, from time to time, that we should dance again (we met through dance). And yet it seems impossible at the moment. Our girls are older now and yet the responsibilities of work tire us both. I know the time will come when we shalll dance again – and have the courage to find places to do so in this city we have moved to.
In the meantime I shall dream of dance and listen to the music that takes me back to the time when I moved energetically and gracefully on the dance floor.