Is the grass greener on the other side?
Then in October 2016, an opportunity presented itself. It seemed fool proof, and it was a sign. Even though I should say at this point, my instincts were not in sync with my head. My gut was trying its best to warn me, but I convinced myself it was nerves. It had been many years since I had lived in South Africa, and it was a simple case of nerves. So I decided to ignore that nagging feeling that I was heading for some serious upset.
By day five, our dream was shattered. What were we going to do? I had packed our life up in the UK and put all my trust into one person who had promised a new life. A new business opportunity and it had all fallen through within days of our return. Well there was only one thing for me to do. I had to get us back home. I had to get Finley and I back on a flight and go back to the UK. Simple.
Not! It was now early December and the Vet informed me that Finley needed a rabies serology test. No problem! How much? Can I book him in tomorrow please? Turned out that there is only one biological unit in the whole of Africa that does this specific test and they were now closed for Christmas and would only be opening mid January!
Not only were they closed, it was a test that needed to be sent to Europe and by all accounts it would take up to three months to return. From the date of return, I would have to wait for a further clean three months before I could book his flight out. So which ever way I looked at this, I was stuck for the next six months!
Oh the despair I felt I cannot put into words. My life was in tatters.I had believed the grass would be greener on the other side and here I was, stranded in Africa. The place I had longed to return to, and here I was crying my eyes out. Utter desperation running through my veins. Were it possible, I would have walked back to the safety of England.
I cried my heart out. What the hell was I going to do. I had no one to leave Finley with while I returned to recapture the life I had lost. Had I been able to return that first week of arriving, I could have taken back my life within hours of landing back in England. I could have moved back into my home and my job was still open. Now it was over. It was sink or swim for us in this Country that had gone to the dogs in the 16 years I had been away. I hardly recognised the place.
Finding a new home for Finley was never a consideration. Finley is my companion, best friend, his loyalty and love is unwavering. I could never do that to him. We had no option but to survive the next six months together come hell or high water. I had to stop my pity party, and put my survival head on. I had to forge a career for the next six months. There was no time to cry and blame. I had to pick myself up, dust myself down, and make this work or we were in trouble.
As it turned out, I got offered a fantastic job, bought a house, had a super car, and life settled down. Finley and I could breathe again. He was much happier even though he was taking strain with the heat in Africa. But there was an emptiness, a void. The 'dream' was not the total reality. Yes I had a beautiful home, a great job, money in the bank and the months were moving by rather swiftly. I missed the UK.
For me, South Africa had changed beyond recognition. I felt unsafe every day of my life. I would tell myself to calm down and stop all my negativity, but was it really negativity? Every house around me was being broken into and innocent families being held at gun point. There I was in a house all on my own, with 5 acres of ground and only Finley's ears for protection. There were times in all honesty, that it was down right terrifying. I literally went grey within months of arriving back to 'the dream'
The one weekend, I went to the Shopping Mall to buy groceries and as I was going up the escalator, these thugs were running down it. They pushed me out the way with an AK47. I hadn't seen one of those that close since the war in Rhodesia and that was going back some years. They had just robbed a jewelry store at gun point and I was in the way of their escape.
They got passed me only to start shooting once they had got to the bottom and came face to face with security. It was a nightmare.
But the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months and the months to one whole year. It was one morning while driving to my office and dodging bullets being fired from both sides of the road and cars in panic swerving to avoid being hit, that I said 'that is it! I am done with this.' and for the first time in all these years I said 'I am going home' referring to the UK as 'home' for the very first time. As I said those words aloud, I could feel the energy surge through me. I knew instantly, I had to get out.
Now I had to figure out a way to return and not let my boss down. The man who had given me such a wonderful break, who had believed in me and given Finley and I a life line. How was I going to sort this lot out? I walked mine, and Finleys legs off thinking. I always go for long walks when I need to problem solve. It's just my thing. I decided, I had enough money, I would simply resign, explaining my reasons why, be honest, and head back. No more vacillating. Procrastination was my thief of time. My mind was made up, I need to get this ball rolling.
I booked Finley in for all his injections and international checks and I was silently preparing myself without anyone but my PA who is now my dear friend, knowing. Levashni knew about all my secret plans and helped me so much. I adore that woman and will be ever grateful for our deep friendship that developed over the year I was there and that still holds firm today. When the time was right, and I had packed up and had my house in order, I would hand my notice in. I figured at the time, with it being Christmas season, I will hand my notice in at the end of January 2018, and leave early March.
As luck would have it, and God on my side, my boss called me to a meeting on the 2nd December 2017 and said 'Anita, how quickly would you be able to relocate back to the UK? I need you at our offices in the UK. I know you happy here but would you consider going back?' Christ are you kidding! I of course didn't say that. I had to pretend to be disappointed and doing him a huge favour! 'Three months and I will be ready' I answered. To which he replied 'Thank you Anita,you have 6 weeks!'
Holy shit! I had planned it all already and I definitely needed more than 6 weeks to pack my whole life up. The man was insane, but I was not about to look this gift horse in the mouth. I would make it happen in 6 weeks come hell or high water. Those 6 weeks were the most chaotic of my life! I not only had to sell up my new life, pack and sort Finley out, I had to somehow squeeze a return trip to the UK and spend a few days there with my Mom who was booked for heart surgery and terrified she would die without seeing me again.
But, I did it! We, Finley and I, did it. We both arrived back in the UK on the 9th of January 2018 and I started work on the 12th January at our UK office.
I have never been so happy to be back in the UK in my life.
However, I will say this, I have learned through life, that everything happens for a reason. You may think its a complete waste of time, or not understand why things go so horribly wrong, or why things happen that are unpleasant, but there is always a reason. A lesson to be learnt. Keep your eyes open and be objective. Look for the reason behind what is going wrong in your life. Take some time out. Go for long walks, and the answers will come to you.
The little story I have shared, is half a story. Were I to share my whole experience, it would be a book.
Looking back, I was meant to return. I had lessons to learn about myself, my ability. I had people to meet and befriend. People I would never have otherwise met, had I not returned and gone through what I did. I had an appreciation of myself to discover and respect. I had loose ends untied from over 16 years ago. A past life that I needed to close once and for all.
And I needed to return to the UK when I did, because I met the most wonderful human being. After being on my own for many years and despairing on ever meeting anyone decent to share my life with, it all happened on my return. In record time, we built a home together.
Richard had his dog Tia, I had Finley, and we have subsequently rescued from death row and brought on board another three dogs, Stryder a male Scotch Collie and two girls Khaleesi and Torvi who are Carpathian Shepherd X. So we one big happy family, living our little dream.
So as dodgy as that South African trip was, the many, many tears I cried through fear and despair, It was all for a reason, it was all character building, and taught me so much about myself and gave me an appreciation for the Country I now call 'home'
In conclusion, allow me to give you my answer - Is the grass greener on the other side? Well, for me the answer is no. It was not greener. But I had to walk barefoot for a long time to realise that.