What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?

Yes yes, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare (‘s tragedy) but really let’s talk about names.

Elle Charlotte.

My daughter’s name was originally going to be Emma. 6 years ago when we thought having a baby would be nice and Mrs M fell pregnant and planned for the arrival of Emily, we discussed how it would work…. Emma… and Emily. And decided they’d be friends and it could. So Emma Jane would be her name.

But time passed and Emily arrived safely and started to grow up a bit. And Emma, over time and pending her arrival became Olivia. Inspired by our favourite show of the time, Fringe (my ringtone was also inspired by it for a while) and there weren’t a lot of Olivias around.

Until there were.

It became fashionable and people we knew started naming their daughters Olivia, but I held onto the name because I liked it a lot, and I was reassured by friends that it’d be ok. When Olivia arrived she’d be my Olivia and it didn’t matter that it had now become a popular name.

Olivia Jane was her name.

And we waited.

But Olivia, Liv, became our IVF baby. She became the blood tests, the waiting, the tears and the emptiness. And still we waited. And so, when I fell pregnant by accident and surprise, our baby was no longer Olivia.

Jane was the constant, as you can guess. Named after two very important people. Samantha Jane, my late cousin who we tragically lost when she was 16, and my mom Rejane (pronounced Ra-jean, so only the Jane in the spelling really).

Elle. Or Al (in pronunciation if I’m honest). It started way before Emma.

In 2007, we got engaged and I also started working in an Asset Management firm – SSGA. I worked for guy, Arron, who little did I know at the time would not only share my birthday, but his wife would inspire my child’s name. As is the case within an open plan office, or maybe just a quiet office of finance ops nerds –  I overheard phone calls to his wife, Al. Short for Alison. Or Alice. But over the phone, he called her Al  (cue: Paul Simon hum).

I liked the name a lot. But I didn’t like Alice. Or Alison. And so Elle became. In 2007, before I was even married, my future girl child would be Elle.

Elle Jane.

Elle Jane.

L Jane

L J – isn’t that a rapper? (ok, ok… LL Cool J)

Elle Jane was just never going to work. But I needed it to.

And then my mom delivered her pearler: “I never liked the name Jane. Plain Jane.” (err.. mom, the name is your namesake). But nope, she was not a fan even with this tug on her heart.

And so with just a few days before the imminent arrival of a baby who we weren’t sure was a girl or a boy yet, we learnt an interesting fact. My mom’s mom, a grandmother I never knew, the real name she never went by, was Charlotte.

And so Elle Charlotte suddenly became our miracle baby daughter’s name. That by the time I went into labour, we were still convinced was a boy. By “we” – I mean Mark. I always knew (dating back to 2007 ofcourse) that my first born would be a girl.

And while I fend off the stupids who ask if Elle/Al, is short for Alistair or Allan, and I smile sweetly (eye roll them) while pointing out that she’s a girl and her name is Elle – like the magazine, or you know, the international supermodel, I know that this child is more unique than just her name. She chose to arrive when she did, against the odds, to a name that was planned well before her time but only came to us at the last moment.

Elle Charlotte Hawkins. My miracle baby girl.

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Yes, we did another shoot

So, when I was around 34 weeks pregnant (about a million years ago) Mark and I did a maternity shoot which I posted about here. It was a no-brainer that we’d do a shoot once our little miracle arrived in the world too. This stuff needs to be recorded as it may only happen once afterall!

Unlike the maternity shoot where I had time to go and have makeup done, my hair blowdried and take a leisurely drive out to Stellenbosch, our newborn shoot took a full day of coordination of timing feeds and sleeps (for everyone in the household) to look mildly presentable (even though there were no shoes on two of us!)

A newborn shoot springs to mind pictures of little babies posed in teacups or the name Anne Geddes or as I like to say ‘the most un Kim & Mark thing ever’, but… like the whole being pregnant thing, I wanted to document our tiny baby in a beautiful way and that just can’t be done by iPhone.

Cheryl Mcewan is an old school friend and was, without a doubt, the only person we were going to feel the most relaxed around in our home and with our new baby given that we were ten days in and had little idea what we were doing (side note: we’re now 11 weeks in and still have little idea what we’re doing).

While trying to figure out what to dress in when 10 days before you had a soccer ball for a tummy and you’re hardly feeling your best self, all I knew was that I wasn’t about to let our baby don a tutu, a headband, or any pink just yet.  Cheryl managed to capture our beautiful miracle perfectly and ensure sleep deprived mom and dad didn’t look too bad either. She’s pretty damn talented.

Here are some of our pics – randomly selected as they’re all stunning! See more on Cheryl’s website.

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A little punt about Cheryl – I have never known a person more hardworking and passionate about her chosen profession. Years ago she loved taking photos of her travels with her normal point and shoot camera. So, while keeping other jobs and building a career in the travel industry, she built up her skill and profession as a wedding photographer abroad. She moved back to SA and invested herself full time into her business. She’s a lifestyle photographer now, weddings, families, friends etc. Check out her website for more stunning photos.

 

Time to remember

19 years ago my cousin was killed in a car accident.

She was only 16. She has been gone longer than she was here for.

While some might think that this post should be saved for the 20th anniversary, let me explain the significance of marking the 19th.

You see, my sisters 21st birthday was marred by the coma Samantha Jane was in while we waited for further news – which we received the day after – the machines had been switched off and our young cousin had passed away. As we approach my sisters 40th birthday, I can’t help but remember Sam. Not that I don’t remember her often, talk about her, and bring her into topics as much as I can, but this time of year (and especially this year), it seems heightened. The memory of her.

She was a wild one – an artist, an adventurer. She was creative and whimsical, confident and fashionable. She was only 16. And it had been 6 months since I had last seen her when we received that phone call. We were due for a family get together the following weekend. We were just waiting for her to get back from camp.

And then just like that. She was gone.

While I can’t begin to go into what her death did to her parents (she was an only child) or how hard it was for me personally, just a 15 year old, to really come to terms with her death – it does make me think about when people leave. For good. Or for sort of good.

I know that absence makes the memory kinder. As time goes past we always look back favourably on someone who has left. Somehow the fights become insignificant. The differences, the arguments, the stubbornness – it all fades away and all that you recall are happy, laughing, champagne drinking times (I got drunk for the first time with Sam as only a 13 year old and a 14 year old could – at Christmas. At the kids table). The memory of someone is a haze of happiness. But even that haze fades. (In my memory, we were best friends, although I know we actually weren’t). You go from thinking of them often (daily) to then sometimes months without giving them any thought.

A friend of mine lost her dad in April 2003. I only recall the date because it was the day of my graduation and I called her for advice on what to wear – to which she responded that her dad had passed away. Shit I felt awful. I miss her dad. He was amazing. I know she misses him too. I can’t even begin to imagine how much. We talk about him every April.

Memories of people, like the haze, fades. They fade if we don’t relive them. They fade if there’s nothing to remind us. I remember Sam like she is lying on the bed next to me right now reading over my shoulder. But of course – I don’t really remember her at all. Its been 19 years. I can’t hear her voice, and I can’t see her. I have a photo of her. And I have that photo ingrained in my mind, and that is how I see her when I think of her. In a non-moving picture that was about a year before she passed away.

No one in my life today knows Sam. Mark knows our stories. My old friends may recall her. But they don’t really remember her like I do. My sisters ofcourse remember her, but they weren’t our age. They were older – and we were the kid cousins. My memory of her has become a happy haze, but one that is fading.

I want to talk about Sam to people. I want to talk about Ashley (my friend’s dad) to her. I want to talk about every single  person that has left. Even the ones that haven’t passed away, and that perhaps I just don’t see anymore. I want to talk about people that have been in my life. I want my memories of them to be able to live on. I want to be able to reminisce about them. About times with them. I want to not let the haze fade. I don’t want to forget them.

When you say goodbye to someone, you never expect it to be forever. Even if it is in theory (like you’re leaving a job, a school, a country) – you always expect there to be another time you’ll see them. Except when they’re gone for good and you actually have no one that remembers them with you. They’ll slowly fade from your memory too.

So forgive me while I reminisce about Sam, about the importance of her 16 years on earth and her cherry doc martens that I loved to borrow. About Ashley, the niknaks and steri-stumpie on a Friday night dad who looked a lot like Jesus, and about all the very special people that have come, gone, come back, or are gone for good. Its that time of year, and this is what I do. I need to make time to remember, so that it all doesn’t fade.

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Yes, I just included another quote from Greys Anatomy. What can I say – they make good content

Standing still, or being left behind.

It was fairly harmless, the text message from a friend I left behind in London. Of course I didn’t leave her behind at all, she was in fact already living in Cape Town after her two year stint in London when we moved back here 6 years ago. But she was in a long distance relationship with someone she had met while there, which meant she soon left the sunshine, mountain, and in her case, car break-ins again, to head back to an SW postal code shortly after we got back.

Her great idea (after too many Skype calls where I may, or may not have, complained about everyone settling down with their kids, no one to have fun with and certainly no one to drink wine on week nights with) was that I, we, should move back to London. It was a great city after all, it was summer (when she messaged. That day it was summer) and I’d be closer to her, plenty of other childless friends and of course the 2015 Bride and her little new baby (kinda defeating the purpose of her motivation for a second) plus there were more travel and career opportunities…And something about riding a bicycle to work.

I had zoned out as I stared at the mountain from my desk on the 19th floor. And responded something that was more a picture. And may have also contained that tongue sticking out emoticon. I love that emoticon.
But the truth is, I really have considered it. I love London (I can say that now. A) she’s not listening and 2) It’s easy to say it from miles away when you don’t have black soot in your nose from travelling the northern line).
I love the idea of drinks in the sun along the river, and seeing more of Europe (would you believe when we left I claimed I was done with it? Having never been to Iceland, Portugal or a Scandinavian country. Albeit having gone to every other Western European country), travelling further to the Americas, getting all bank (public) holidays on a Monday and ofcourse, the pound (which really- is only good for anything when you convert it back into a rand and daymn, the round is on you!)

But no, I’m not moving back to London. Mostly because it’s fekking freezing there for most of the year and if you happen to be out the country (visiting one of those European countries) on the weekend summer arrives, you’ll have to wait another year before drinks on the Thames is a thing. Also, leaving there remains one of the best decisions we ever made. Cape Town offered us so much. Things finally came together  in Cape Town. Until now.

Maybe not to London, but I have thought about leaving.

New York. Singapore. Hong Kong. Sydney. The world is big and there are so many places to go. Why go back to somewhere we’ve been (although I’m sure I’d be happier there now than I was back then)?
Cape Town, full of people with babies and families and doing family things like weekend markets, with the baby in the pram. Or braais with the kids. Friends who arrive for dinner with so many belongings from bottles to camp cots, to blankets, books and toys they feel like they’re moving in for a week. Only to pack it all up and take it home some 4 hours later.
We do not fit in in (this) Cape Town anymore. Everyone is moving forward, and we’re now standing still. We are that kid who wore their uniform when it was actually civvies day. The odd men out. Black Sheeps. Or sheep. Whatever.

All around me, people are falling pregnant (mostly on baby 2), watching their babies become little people, enrolling them in schools, having play dates, lunching with their ‘antenatal ‘ girls. (What does that even mean?), having get togethers around kids sleeping times or feeding times. And no one drinks for fun anymore!!

People are leaving or changing jobs, working reduced hours, working from home, or not working at all. Everyone is moving into mid-thirties all the while we’re 19 year olds stuck in ageing bodies. We’re in a city we love, a home we’ve created. But we’re not going anywhere. We’re being left behind. 

So I consider New York, Sydney, Singapore (I don’t think I could live in Hong Kong). Where we could move, live in an apartment and make new friends with people our age who don’t have kids, and who drink wine midweek without any guilt. Who travel and don’t put up Christmas trees either and saw Easter as an opportunity for champagne breakfast instead of Easter egg hunts.

That’d be nice.

Except. I kinda like it here with my mountain. And they’d too probably have kids eventually and stop drinking midweek.

It’s a Hawkins thing

Growing up with my maiden name, I made it a quiet goal that I’d marry someone with a surname that was easy to pronounce and spell (as mine wasn’t), and that it started with a letter near the beginning of the alphabet. 1 out of two with Hawkins (which try as I might “Hawk… yes H-A-W-K… like the bird” is often overheard or understood as Wilkins, or Wilkinson).

Becoming a Hawkins, was nothing more than a simple name change. There was no sense of belonging to, or creating a new family, with my now husband. Hardly any thought was given to it at all. I got married young (in today’s terms). Too young to think or care of futures, and lives with (or without) kids that would play with cousins while I drank wine with new sisters and was called aunty by little ones who would then become big ones.

I have my own sisters. These are the only sisters I ever thought I needed or wanted.

Until very recently, where I had one of those (yes, fairly drunken) moments on a dance floor and realised – this crazy bunch of lookalikes that share my surname, is also my family.

The dance floor was in Wellington, at the wedding of the latest Mr & Mrs H (well he was always a Mr H) and why else would I be in Wellington if not for a wedding? Have you been to Wellington? There’s very little to do there. Winemakers, the both of them, and with big dreams and plans in motion, the Made from Grapes duo have been together for 8 years (or so). While the comments of ‘it’s about time’ may have been the same that that Mark and I received as we dated for 8 years prior to our Stellenbosch nuptials 7 years ago, the time dedicated to the… err.. courting (what??) doesn’t run in the family as the littlest (but oldest) Hawkins fell in love, moved countries and was married within 2 years! But the general stubbornness of knowing whats right and when the time is right, does.

The Hawkins stubborn nature (of varying degrees based on situation) is one thing, but the real Hawkins resemblance is all in the eyes. Or perhaps its the nose. Whatever. The genes in this family are ridiculously strong. The four of them look everything alike. (There have been awkward ‘dark club’ moments, we can’t deny but do not talk about either. Not openly. And not sober).

4 brothers. All alike in hairy eyebrows and stubborn nature isn’t where the Hawkins genetic pool stops (or starts). Their sister, plus all the cousins with a Hawkins blood line, are little mirror images of each other. (Well, each set of siblings mirror each other. Which isn’t that weird, I suppose. But when you have a lot of families in the same room together, plus a lot of children, everyone starts to just look the same. Its like a big family tree unfolding before my eyes.)

And so, at this wedding where 90 guests consumed 138 bottles of wine, where the guests changed out of heels and into sneakers just so we could continue partying even if it meant in the freezing cold (at least it wasn’t raining), where I looked nothing like the people around me, I felt very very much a part of something. And I found some new sisters.

This Drake Hawkins Family.

London is…

Cold. And wet. And dark. And pretty miserable, smelly, noisy and busy. Really busy.

London is also spontaneous. And it’s home (at least in a way).

You can call something home when you’ve lived there for 6 and a half years.
But thats not why I do.

They say home is wherever your loved ones are (they!). Well, I have two lifelong friends that are in London, and in one spontaneous evening of a wine bar and curry, those two precious friends made me long to call London home again.

Its only the lifelong friends that can truly arrive at a wine bar in a down duvet with sleeves (and call it a jacket) and then invite themselves along to your dinner for two (and you honestly don’t mind if they do!). They can make you laugh, they can reprimand you, roll their eyes at you, take your shit, treat you like a sister and give you the tightest hug when they say goodbye that makes you want to cancel your flight. Even the flight that takes you back to the sunshine.

London may be pretty kak on the surface to some, but its also pretty damn special.

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oh you know… just friends for 30 years.

Ps. Wine Bar amazing! Ok, so we spent about R500 on a bottle of wine, but by this point we’d stopped converting. Well, one of us had. And it was a Nebiola. Which is my favourite. Excuses excuses.

Pps. if you look really closely at the dress I’m wearing you’ll notice that it is not, in fact, Christmas trees, but instead, it is panthers. They sorta look like Tyrannosaurus’ too though. Not awkward at all.

The house we lost

Yesterday we lost our house. Well, I guess it wasn’t really ours to loose. Yesterday we lost a house we were pretty serious about putting an offer in on. I know I know, there’s a chance our offer wouldn’t have been accepted. And possibly, the couple (I’m not their fan) that put in their offer before us, would’ve just put in their (really great) offer after us and that would’ve been accepted anyway. But still. It sort of feels like my heart has been ripped out. I’m utterly depressed. Sort of like when I found out my ‘friend’ had been kissing my boyfriend on new year’s eve back in 1997. Actually, this sucks more.

I’m being brattish aren’t I? Its just that the search has gone on for far too long now. I have show-house fatigue. I don’t have it in me to make small-talk with the agents about the character of the home, or the high ceilings or these “lovely windows”. Most the time I’d gut the entire house and start again. Except this house. This house was in an area that we have been ridiculed for choosing, but we didn’t care. It’s ‘young family’ heaven. Even though we’re only two people. It had three bathrooms. I mean THREE!! It had a kitchen counter you could fit 12 women around all drinking champagne for bookclub (wine club, dinner club. Who cares – drink champagne at my house!). It was north-facing, it was modern. It had a double garage. Did I mention the kitchen counter?

And then the ‘couple’ had to go and make their (really great) offer. And break my heart.

And so, this post, I’m just having a good old moan. The search goes on. We will find our home. Or maybe the ‘couple’s’  bond application won’t go through. But thats just nasty of me.

Something like this. Not this though. But something similar. White picket fence and all