I’m raising two boys two and a half years and nearly 8,000 miles away from the country that runs in their veins.

The blood red dust of the Karoo, the ostrich, the meerkat, the hadida. Thick accents and thicker maize meal cooked in three legged black pots over open fires.

And the smell of it all. The smells linger in my memory the longest.

Late winter veld fires burning up the horizon. Smoke and traffic and dust. They grit up the nostrils. But then there’s the jasmine. Sweet promise of spring. When I catch it on the breeze here in the States, miles from home, it buckles the knees and takes me back to my mother’s garden, to my childhood.

And I watch my boys growing up without these sights and sounds and smells and I ache for what they don’t know they’re missing. So we recreate. We build up a library of music and food and photographs. And we dance.

Oh how we dance.

We gum boot dance and stomp and ululate wild to these Northern skies. And we hear a distant echo rise from below the equator bringing greetings from the Southern Cross.  We dance and clap wild, lost souls singing their way home across the night sky, feeling our way back into a place that skype can’t properly capture and that email can’t possibly contain.

As if everybody knows
What I’m talking about
As if everybody would know
Exactly what I was talking about

Talking about diamond dust on the soles of tired shoes. Talking about Ladysmith Black Mambazo and how we are all homeless, moonlight sleeping on the midnight lake. Homeless and dreaming of jacaranda trees, a steep driveway and the honey rock house.

Talking about two blond boys and their mama keeping time to the heartbeat of home that’s just a sunrise away.

So we chase it. We run and dance and dream ourselves there. Because one day we will walk that steep, steep South African drive again. And I’m determined it will feel familiar under their feet.

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