“Jou narrative is nou in sy moer in,” my good friend Juan WhatsApped me after I told him the news. I thought: there it is, the opening line for a blog post I know I need to write and which has proved to be harder than pretty much anything I’ve submitted to Thought Leader.
Juan and I have the kind of relationship that develops when two people have seen each other at their absolute worst and remain on speaking terms. We’ve known each other since I came back from Australia in 2009. He was a producer at ChaiFM back then, and I was a regular guest who happened to live with my grandmother while my life unravelled. He was viciously funny and inappropriate, and friendship inevitably developed. I hung out at his house and met a lot of cats, a snake and Andre, the infinitely patient man who became his husband. When I got a Range Rover to drive for free for a year, I brought it around to their place to show it to them (Juan sat on the bonnet. These were the days before he lost so much weight). Juan is bipolar, and we commiserated over our battles with depression and the failure of our lives to assume a form as orderly as we would have liked.
All along, I regularly documented my experiences here and on my other blogs: my post-divorce bitterness, my vinegary cynicism, my determination never to do the get married/ have kids/ be conventional thing ever again. (“Seven reasons never to have sex again, ever.” Yes, I actually wrote a blog post by that name.)
When the Coetzees moved, disastrously, to Durban, I visited Juan while he was waitering at the Mugg & Bean in Westville. I started dating Kanthan and they moved back to Joburg. Before too long, they got to know #BestBeloved and spent many raucous evenings with us over dinner parties. I gave Juan various jobs to help him and back on his feet – the garden, the pool and, later, my 40th birthday party that turned into a surprise wedding reception. I involved him in marketing my art, and this year he applied for me to exhibit in Tokyo and Amsterdam and set up my commercial art website.
“Skattie, you need to accept that your narrative is going to change,” he always said to me. “It can’t be all misery now. You’re happily married!”
And now, the story has taken another turn. Despite all my blogging about my childfree state, despite listing multiple reasons not to pass on my dodgy genetic heritage – here I am, coming out of the pregnancy closet. My condition was confirmed with a blood test on my 41st birthday. My gynaecologist is the same man who operated on me after a cancer scare in 2010. “Better late than never,” he said when he saw me and my husband a couple of weeks later. The blood tests and scans have been done, and everything looks OK, so it’s safe – the pregnancy apps say – to tell everyone.
This is the painting I created on Saturday to announce this new development. My eight-year-old stepdaughter helped with sketches of flowers, butterflies and two angels (she is half Jewish, half Tamil, and attends an Anglican school, so her knowledge of religion is broad).
“From living with your grandma/mom and a cat-> to suddenly falling in love and getting married and now you are expecting” one of my followers tweeted today. “Love can change life in an instant.”
He’s right. Who knew? Here’s to narratives and our power to change them – even when we think it’s impossible.