Tag Archives: love

The Sunshine Dress

27 Feb

sunshine1Holly stood back and looked at her reflection. The bright yellow cotton smelled like mothballs now, but the dress fit perfectly. With the same light hair and slender figures, Amy and Holly looked almost like twins. Even now, it was as though her sister was smiling back at her.

She had never worn the garment, and hadn’t seen it since the day that Amy truly became dead to her. It was still the same ludicrous, exaggerated yellow – loud and happy, just like Amy.

The dress was the only memento she had kept. Guiltily tucked away in a box marked “old linen”, it was hidden in a place that Scott would never bother to look.

Now, on the weekend before their wedding, the old sadness had returned. Despite Scott, despite everything, she missed her sister and wanted to feel close to her. The dress was all she had.

She had no pictures, no sentimental childhood teddy bears, none of the books Amy had given her over 25 shared Christmases and birthdays.

Holly had gotten rid of everything exactly two years ago. Packed up all that was Amy’s, and took it far, far away. She only kept the dress.

Before that day, the flat they used to share was still theirs. Amy was still everywhere, and Holly liked it so. It was easy to pretend that her sister was still alive with her bed still unmade the way it was the morning of the accident, pillows on the floor and make-up strewn across the dresser. It was easy to pretend that nothing had changed.

Two years and one day ago, exactly, Scott asked Holly to marry him. Two years ago, exactly, Holly woke up to find that Scott was not next to her. She found him in Amy’s room, clutching the yellow dress and sobbing quietly. He did not see her, but she knew then that he was still in love with Amy. She was but the conciliation prize – the second best almost lookalike who reminded him of the woman he used to adore.

He did not say anything when he came back the next day and found Amy’s memory gone. Nor did he say anything when the thumbed and faded picture of her disappeared from its hiding place behind his credit card. He could still see the golden flecks of her green eyes when Holly looked up at him; he could still hear her giggle when he gave Holly a good tickle.

Holly would have to be enough. She was all he had left of Amy.

And he did love her. In his way, and perhaps for all the wrong reasons, he loved Amy’s little sister.

In the beginning, he loved her for not getting rid of Amy – for not leaving her in the little box of ashes that everyone had reduced her to. He loved her for pretending with him. For sitting in Amy’s room surrounded by Amy’s things and reading Amy’s book inscriptions out loud.

Mourning together had changed them both and brought them closer. They read those inscriptions as if Amy was talking to them.

Dear Holly,

I blame you for not getting a night of wild smooching last night. I had a gorgeous guy in our apartment and had to spend the time sifting flour.

But hey – tradition is tradition and I have never missed baking your birthday cake.

Sorry about the icing – I don’t think he’s ever iced a cake before.

Happy birthday, sis.



PS – You’re meeting Mr Cake Boss tonight. I invited him to join for drinks so he can see that I can be normal, too.

That was one of Scott’s favourites. He was the guy, of course. He remembered the day well. Amy was wearing the yellow dress. They had both attended a company fun day at Gold Reef City amusement park – ridiculous thing to arrange for a bunch of adults, but better than spending another day at the office. He saw her standing in line for the Anaconda rollercoaster, absentmindedly licking an oversized lollipop. It was a refreshing sight – the rest of the staff was buried in their smartphones; they brought the office with.

“If you can finish that lollipop before the ride starts, I’ll give you my car.”

It was a lame pick-up line, but he didn’t know what else to say.

She smiled. “Who says I’d want your car?”

“You’re right – it’s pretty crappy. I’d have to offer a better prize.”

“Be my date for the day? I’m new here, and no-one has even said hello. And here you are, offering me your car.”

That explained why he hadn’t seen her before – she was new.

By the end of the day, he no longer thought a fun day at an amusement park was ridiculous. It was one of the best days of his life. Amy had a childlike excitement about things that he had long forgotten in years of corporate drudgery. At first, she dragged him to the rides. Later, they were both running.

They were the last people allowed on the Big Wheel just as the sun was setting. Both out of breath and laughing hysterically, the ride attendant just smiled and let them on, making the wheel turn one more time than usual that day.

It was just the two of them and the burny orange of the Joburg skyline.

He noticed the golden flecks in her eyes then, and kissed her as they got to the top of the wheel.

He knew then. Knew that she was the girl he had been waiting for.

Amy in the sunshine dress, kissing him in the sunset.

“You want to help me bake a birthday cake tonight?”

Saying yes was the best decision he ever made.

Her death, three years later, nearly destroyed him. She had worn that same dress the day she drowned. She fell asleep wearing it on the boat. He had left her alone – she looked so peaceful. An hour later, screams were heard as a girl noticed her lifeless body in the water. He still did not understand how it could happen.

Holly was the only reason he was still alive; the only reason he could smile again. And for that, he did love her.

It was the weekend before the wedding now, and he had decided to go see Holly. He had to convince himself that he was doing the right thing. Knocking on the door – so many knocks on that door, so many memories – he heard her shuffling about inside.

The door opened.

Holly was wearing the dress. He gasped, but quickly regained composure. She knew, of course. She knew what that dress meant to him; how he still loved her sister even in death.

“Heya, Cake Boss! Amy will be out in a second.”

She hadn’t called him that since before Amy died.

“Why do you look like so confused, dude?”

Her voice sounded like it used to when it was still a little sister voice. Like it was before it became grave and serious in mourning. She shrugged her shoulders and turned back into the flat.

“A-myyyy! Hurry up! You know Scott and I have nothing to say to each other.”

He failed to see the joke. She did not seem drunk – it was only when very drunk, and only once, that she had ever dared to even allude to the fact that he still loved Amy.

He didn’t know what to say.

“Holly… I… Why are you doing this?”

She looked puzzled.

“Whatever, dude. Some beer?”

After Amy’s death, Holly had to help him stop drinking. Were it not for her, he would have killed himself doing it.


She walked towards the kitchen, popping her head into Amy’s old room.

“I’m using your old sunshine dress tonight, o-kayyy?”

“Any dress but that one! Please, sis – you know I’m superstitious about it.”

It was Amy’s voice.

“Hey, Love.” She walked to the door kissed him casually on the cheek. “I’ll be ready in a minute. Come in!”

He didn’t know what was real. He would wake up. He would wake up and be back to his sorrowful reality.

Holly gave him an amused smile. Her sister was being ridiculous.

“I’m serious, Holly. When I fell asleep wearing it, I had a terribly realistic nightmare that I drowned and that you ended up marrying Scott. It was horrible. Just put it back in my closet, okay? It’s cursed. I don’t think we should wear it – that nightmare just felt too damn real.”

He remembered then.

They had visited the park’s so-called fortune teller that first day, both openly amused and struggling to look serious. The woman had a way of speaking in wannabe Shakespearean riddles, and was rumoured to be a witch. They thought her laughable. Amy was tugging at his arm to get to the big wheel on time.

The woman was visibly annoyed.

“Sleep in sunshine cloth and to hastened death they shall awaken.
Return once more to life – unchanged – when flesh of blood the cloth doth touch.”

Until Holly had put on the sunshine dress, releasing them, they were living in Amy’s nightmare.


Home sweat home

31 Dec
Happy home :)

Happy home 🙂

As I write this, it has been exactly 7 days since moving into my very first Grown-up place. No more parents or flat mates – just me, my man, our cat and our big-person responsibilities.

Moving in together is one of those things that sound crazy exciting but turns out to be crazy frustrating (and a hell of a lot of work) instead. Hence – 7 tips for 7 days for any of you considering shacking up:

1.     There’s no such thing as drama-free delivery

Delivery people just don’t care.

Don’t expect your address to be jotted down correctly. I know I have a Pretoria accent, but Millway road, Victory Park and Milly street, Victoria Park do NOT sound the same.

Following the umpteenth phone call and eureka moment of getting the place right, don’t bother being at home when your furniture is supposed to arrive. Instead, wait around aimlessly and then get a call from your front gate when you’re halfway to the South Coast.

When the furniture finally does arrive, know that there will be some problem. Granted, my sample is small, but I am yet to hear of someone who had a drama-free delivery.

Tip: Get a friggin bakkie and do it yourself.

2.     Earplugs may be a good investment

If a cat is joining you, be aware that the mandatory seven-days-indoors rule comes with A LOT of tantrums.

In our case, Mufasa was so vocally unimpressed about being kept indoors that we got him some tranquilizers. Nothing hectic – herbal crap that didn’t work anyway – but the fact that we were driven to find an emergency vet at midnight on Christmas may give you some indication of how desperate we were.

Tip: Earplugs. Or, in our case, a half-broken heater fan that drowned out the cattrum with an annoying ggggrrrrrr-whoosh -ketak-ketak-ketak noise somehow soothing to Andrew. 

3.     Prepare to catch Joneses fever

As a woman, there’s some sort of competitive nesting instinct that kicks in and goes on overdrive. All logic seems to go on mute and you start living in a fantasy of Coricraft this and Le Creuset that. Screw saving for that trip to Spain – you’d rather have a couch called “Afrique” and some bright orange cookware.

This instinct is especially pronounced when you start seeing friends’ homes that seem pretty much like they belong on Top Billing Junior. Designer homeware is the new it status symbol and it’s hard not to be caught up in the nonsense of it all.

Tip: Remember that your home is supposed to be nothing more and nothing less than your happy place. Designer whatevers don’t really play a role in that.

Bonus Tip (thanks, Dad): Never become indebted for the sake of status symbols. The flash wears off in one week flat, but the liability lingers on and on.

4.     Don’t forget the garden

Being completely unashamed of my obsession with my Mufasa, we set out to find a place that would suit him rather than us. This meant finding a (budget!) JHB garden big and wild enough for a critter used to having a whole farm as his kingdom.

We found such a place – and I dare say my little darling seems happy with what he’s explored so far – but are unfortunately taking over from tenants who clearly didn’t give a flying one. Mufasa may not mind the weeds, but I do. And let me tell you – spending whole days pulling out toddler-tall invader plants and forgetting your sunscreen leaves a NASTY burn. The discovery that nothing else will grow as the weed forest was covering building rubble from who-knows-when is even worse.

Tip: Pots, pots, pots – if the lease agreement stipulates that you “maintain” the garden in the same (yuck!) state that you found it, improve the look with something you can take with you.

Bonus Tip (thanks, Andrew): You’re a tenant. Rubble removal is expensive. Landscaping is expensive. Covering up the gross blue little wall thing at the edge of what used to be Weed Forest and is now Rubble Hill is expensive. Save the money for when you own a place and make that place amazing instead.

5.  Know he’s not always a gentleman (and love him anyway)

Unless you can laugh at this shirt in front of your boyfriend, you're not ready to move in

Unless you can laugh at this shirt in front of your boyfriend, you’re not ready to move in

Don’t move in unless you have already reached a level of comfort that my cousin Caroline classifies as “gross.”

Tip: Unless you have squeezed his zit, felt his fart and still found him the sexiest in the world, you’re not ready.

6. You’re allowed to get annoyed

Andrew has to deal with a disruptive insomniac who insists that he adopts her cat as his first born child. I must get used to sharing my house with an Xbox and a lot of complaints about “that cat” – a most annoying reference not only because Mufasa is perfect, but because he is not referred to as “our child”.

Furthermore, priorities clash BIG TIME. Where your guy wants to spend money on an extra bedroom TV, you’d prefer a nice painting.

Tip: Fighting is okay. Only way to suss out that difficult necessity that is Compromise.

Bonus Tip (learn from my mistake): Don’t arrive at home with 4 original paintings when you said you were only going out to get a small printed canvas from Mister Price. In my defense – the paintings were not that expensive considering that I got to support a local artist* and got stuff that go perfectly  with my theme.

7. Take a step back and be grateful

Two years ago, I never would have dared to imagine that I could be this blessed – all grown up, sharing a home with a man who loves me.

Tip (or personal reminder): Don’t take your relationship for granted – remember how you wanted to be loved, and now are loved 🙂.


*The artist I’m so chuffed with can be found on the grassy corner opposite St Mary’s in Waverley. He sells his art in the sunshine, and I noticed him over a year ago.

His work is mostly quintessential South African scenery – we have some lovely JHB skylines and a large canvas depicting a typical winelands town.

Prices range from R150 to R800 (which is friggin cheap, dear Andrew!), depending on the size of the canvas.

I didn’t catch his name, but noticed a cell number at the back of my winelands – if anyone is interested in contacting him, his number is 078 751 6814.


Our winelands painting

Our winelands painting

A room is a room (and a toilet is a toilet)

14 May

Not quite Caro’s holiday


If there is one single truth about travel, it is this: Plans are only there to be laughed at in retrospect.

Take this weekend.

Here was the plan:

“Our first romantic weekend away. Lots of good wine, and even more good food. Dawntime kisses and sunlit mountains. A room with a view.”

Here was reality:

Arrive in Cape Town to mild complaints of nausea. Which I proceed to ignore, as Andrew, despite all his winning qualities, is the biggest hypochondriac this side of the moon.

‘No,’ I think, happily breathing in the rent-a-car fumes, ‘we’re in Cape Town. The sky is blue, the day is fresh. This is going to be the best weekend of my life.

Not quite.

The nausea was real. And soon joined by cramps, fever, exhaustion and grumpiness…

Let’s take that plan and see how the Universe had fun with it.

Element 1: Romance

Romcom expectation: Andrew-and-Caro, strolling down the picturesque main road in Franschoek. Quirky cafés, mountain views by candlelight. Perfect hair. Whiter teeth than I really have.

Reality: Valoid. Immodium. Buscopan. The only romantic thing about this weekend is the knowledge that I love my man enough to not insist on separate toilet facilities.

Element 2: Being away

Romcom expectation: All is new. Caro and Andrew break away from the bustling tourists and discover what will become their very own secret place. It’s a garden. Or a view. Or a fountain.

It’s different to any garden, view, or fountain back home because it is here, in the place they first visited Together.

Reality: It’s all the same. After all, a bed is a bed and a toilet a toilet.

Element 3: Good wine

Romcom expectation: Giddily hopping from farm to farm, we are a perfect, sophisticated couple. We are dressed in Polo and nod knowingly when tasting caramel chardonnays and cherry-velvet reds. We find it difficult to distinguish Graham Beck from JC le Roux, but keep this to ourselves.

Reality: No wine – just whine. When a man is sick, the woman is constantly reminded.

Element 4: Good food

Romcom expectation: No budget constraints. No diet constraints. No appetite constraints. If Franschoek really does have the best food in all the land, we shall taste it. All of it.

Reality: It’s no fun to eat out alone, so I don’t. Instead, in our country’s culinary capital, it’s bad pizza and garage food. Oh – and a sandwich from Bicccs. Which is way better in Pretoria.

Element 5: Dawntime kisses

Romcom expectation: Pretty self-explanatory.

Reality: Pretty much the opposite.

Element 6: Sunlit mountains and a room with a view.

Romcom expectation: Big bay windows. A giant king-sized bed. Goose down. The best view in town, to be enjoyed over warm butter croissants and a snuggle.

Reality: Small dingy window. Two single beds. Goose down (at least). No view – even of town. Just some wall ivy and a yapping dog.

All in all, not exactly the type of experience I’m happy to pay this kind of money for.

Even so – fact of Life learned and confirmed:

Despite attending some in-town events and doing some in-town shopping, and despite seeing the mountains and the beauty and the bustle,  all I really wanted was my guy.

 I think what Life was teaching me is that Love isn’t perfection. And it isn’t supposed to be. Love is finding that someone who, despite him being ill and grumpy and you being uppity and annoyed, you want nothing more than just to be together.

Reality is better than the Romcom expectation, after all.


Of car tunes and compromise

2 Apr


I think I might buy a donkey cart.

With petrol and e-tolls practically making me choose between, well, food and getting around I see no other option. Sure, it’ll take me two days to get to JHB, but we all keep saying that life in this city is too fast-paced anyway.

My only problem is that I won’t be able to install a radio on the cart. I thought about using a portable one, but given my long journey times I don’t think the battery will last long enough for me to even get to Jacaranda’s WorkZone. And that’s my favourite show. Especially on Fridays, when some hapless secretary gets the chance to “take her job and shove it”. I love those 5 minutes.

Anyway, point is we’re all attached to our Car listening of choice. When going somewhere, I have a rule to take my own ride. Partly because I want to leave when I’m bored, but mostly because I feel I have the Right to make my passengers endure what I enjoy.

 My philosophy is: “If you don’t like the song, the style, the language- tough. I’m driving.”

The only issue is that people do the same thing to me. My sister is especially bad – after enduring years of girly slut-pop in my company, she exposes me to the horror that is TuksFM Indie crap. I still refuse to believe that anyone can actually enjoy this style of music, and am of the firm opinion that they listen solely to prove a point.

Then there’s Andrew. Even though his choice of music could have been worse, hardcore German trans always sounds exactly the same, no matter who the DJ or how big his Eurotrash hype.

My latest obsession is Emeli Sande. Breaking from old habits, I no longer buy the kind of CD’s where songs are a full 7 minutes long only because the singer is demonstrating how many sex noises she can make. Britney, Kesha, Pussycat Dolls – I’m ashamed to say I own them all. I know more “up in da club” lyrics than anyone should. I know songs about Kesha’s basement and Nicole Scherzinger’s hooha (remember that one? “I don’t give a ——— // keep looking at my ———”. An especially good example of how pop music uses catchy tunes to make us sing things we’d never otherwise utter).

Anyway – Emeli. Andrew hates her, but I’ve found that rare artist who, in the well-sung words of Roberta Flack, is singing my life with her words.

I’m not saying that Kesha won’t come back out, or that I won’t go back to regular listenings of “Take off in Spanish”, but for now I’m a woman obsessed.

 Especially with track 3. If you’ll indulge me – read the lyrics:

See the times are changing,
and I’m sure of nothing that I know
Except this is us, and this is love,
and this is where I’m home

In a world that’s breaking,
where nothing is for keeps,
Oh, this is us, this is love,
and this is where I sleep
this is us, this is love,
and this is where I sleep

I’m from a generation undecided
I’m restless and I can’t help changing things

But in all the noise and the excitement,
your love is all that will remain

I said all of my goodbyes to ego
I gambled all I got, there’s no plan B
It’s the first time that I’ve learned to let go

It’s the only place I feel, only place I feel like me

To me, this is poetry. I’m so blessed to have found my Marriage Man, but I also feel pretty lost sometimes. Having given up a professional career to instead do my own thing, and all the while still feeling a restless itch to do things like teach English in Peru, this just resonates… Ours really is a generation with, perhaps, too much choice.

It all just gets a bit overwhelming sometimes, doesn’t it? We’re surrounded by so many options, but so many pressures. Never before has it been so accessible to experience a myriad of adventures, yet never has there been such pressure to Succeed. Out of everyone that I know, I know but a single person who actually excused himself from the Rat Race to go teach inThailand (read his blog – http://thaitywhitey.wordpress.com/ ).

The rest of us are pretty much Working. I’m not sure why I feel despondent all of a sudden – like most of you, I’m perfectly fine doing this – but sometimes the Child inside unexpectedly pops up and reminds me that I wanted to be a magazine writer who traveled the world.

I think the key is to find a compromise between the person we wanted to be, and the person we’ve become. Much as my twenties turned out differently to what I thought I wanted, Life has also given me new dreams. Dreams of building a company, dreams of building a family.

 And – thank goodness – the ease of blogging to feed my writer’s hunger.

 Here’s to enjoying the little things in Life – we may not be traveling the world, but at least we can listen to our own music in the car ;).

Break-up Breakdown

1 Dec


You better believe it!

This weekend, a friend’s pesky ex had the nerve to tell me that I am not qualified to comment on break-ups.Why? Because I’ve had too many.

 Now, call me illogical but since when is experience considered a disqualifier? Newsflash – I lived it. I know what I’m talking about.

Let’s recap the embarrassing tale of Caro-before-Andrew. (I’m currently part of a disgustingly in-love, just-right couple. But I had some, um, characters leading up to this.)

 Then please let me know whether or not you think I’m capable of an informed break-up opinion:

Boyfriend Number 1

Name: Who cares. I refer to him simply as Die Drol (to my foreign readers – this anti-affectionate name quite simply means “piece of shit”.)

Relationship status: Obsessed freak

Break-up: Sheer Hell

Ah, the special type of terrible that comes with dating and dumping someone in your own varsity class. You cannot escape. Maybe, had I the sense to date someone of sane mind, this wouldn’t have been so bad. I imagine most of these situations die a quiet death of mutual tolerance. Not for me. The highlights of breaking up with this German crackpot include:

  • Multiple, elaborate threats of suicide. Now, call me insensitive, but by the 12th one I was kinda hoping he just gets it over with. You get so sick of sulky phone calls interfering with your day. You’re a grown man – man the fuck up!
  • New-found fame as the class slut. (Warning, ladies – this is what happens when you dare bruise an ego).

 The lessons?

  • You HAVE to – no half measures – HAVE to cut all contact with crazy Germans. Forever.
  • You don’t owe an ex ANYTHING. If you broke up, there was good reason. (Mostly that the guy was an ass). NEVER feel guilty for ignoring calls or not replying to messages – except with “fuck you.” You can say that. In fact, say it right now if he ever dared call you fat.
  • You can’t care what people think – a petty ex WILL tell tall tales. If people want to talk, let them. Then prove them all wrong.


Boyfriend Number Two

Name: Let’s call this one Matthew.

Relationship status: Highly experimental (it was a phase, ok.. If you ask me, everyone should try a younger guy)

Break-up: Just plain right

Matthew was my “different” phase. We were all wrong for each other on all fronts. That said, I learned a lot. My advice to the singletons not quite yet looking to settle down – allow yourself to fall for the wrong guy before you meet the right one. Push your limits. Realise that you’re young and supposed to be a bit wild. Just meeting someone in first year and settling in for married life in the company of SABC 2 is asking for a divorce at 24.

The break-up itself? My favourite one ever.

 “You’re just too fiery for me”. Now, if that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is…


The lessons?

  • If you want something to last, date someone with whom this is a possibility. If he says he just wants something casual, believe him and spare yourself the heartbreak.
  • Ex-bashing is just about the most fun two friends can have. Pull that friend who always hated the guy closer and have a good laugh at his expense.


Boyfriend Number Three

Name: Eww! Gross!

Relationship status: Rebound

Break-up: Just plain rude

 Though Matthew was all wrong, I got my heart broken badly. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much or felt as alone as I did after that break-up. Funny, that.

 So what did I do? I did what Cosmo told me to – I got attached to the first guy who looked my way. I’m ashamed, dear reader, to confess that it was a barman. A gross one. With way too much chest hair just everywhere. Who smoked pot and had the vocab of a below-average 11 year old. Oh – and this disgusting abscess thing on his back. The thought makes me shudder. What. Was. I. Thinking.

We broke up over sms and haven’t spoken since. I avoid anything to do with LiquidChefs like the plague.

 The lessons?

  • Stop settling for just anyone.

Boyfriend Number Four

Name: Bi Bye Bye

Relationship status: Um. Nothing official. In fact, I’m not sure I’m technically allowed to include him in this post. Oh well.

Break-up: It’s not you, it’s me

 So this guy was wonderful. Or at least I stupidly thought so for a tiny little while. Full marks for being most creative – I can’t date you… I think I’m bipolar. Umm… yeah.


The lessons?

  • Don’t meet guys at clubs. Bad. Idea.
  • Read He’s just not that into you. Believe it! If he doesn’t want to be your official boyfriend, he’s not gonna change his mind. Accept it and move on before he gets so desperate that he has to invent a disorder to get rid of you.
  • Again – read. That. book. It may sound silly, but it saved me. After Bi guy, I REFUSED to settle for anyone who was even remotely reflected in this book


And you know what? I found the love of my life….