It didn’t take long to feel at home – pretty much at touchdown, actually, last Saturday evening, around 10.30 pm, after flying out Friday night from Toronto’s Pearson airport. The journey was relatively painless, although it does feel, every time you do it, longer than you remembered: and I arrived feeling pretty upbeat, energised, alive, and profoundly happy.
It has stayed that way all week: through braais and dinners with the children and their spouses; through treks down the N1 to Pretoria and back on business; through lunches and coffees and drinks with old friends and colleagues – through thunderstorms and lightning, the great grey-pink clouds piling up in the skies above the highveld, the smell of rain and the heat of the afternoons; through the usual frustrations – traffic lights down, lunatic drivers – and the moments of true South African warmth and hospitality.
I have cruised through the week without a sign of jet lag, and with nary a thought of snow, or ice-storms, or sub-zero temperatures, except in regaling my children, or in thinking about Rob – at home, alone and working like a demon. I have felt – as I have told several people – like an exile who has returned home, after a protracted absence, and found, on arrival, a sense of vigour and renewal.
Home advantage, I guess. There’s no other way of describing it.