Urban Pastoralist

Back in the married days I had a number of friends going through the usual rough patches in their relationships and, you know, we talked about almost everything. The truly unhappy shared their plans to leave and we, clue less at the time, marveled at their resolve and determination while pitying them. How could they possibly think they could leave their husbands and survive!

Well I soon found out. Since my marriage ended 6 years ago I have moved 7 times. And it’s been quite the journey.

Move 1
The kids, dogs, staff and I leave our gorgeous 2 storey on 2 acres in the suburbs to a similar property in the same area. I will admit it was too hard to make a huge adjustment and I hung in there for 4 months out of pride and fear. Reality struck when I just couldn’t afford it any more. I turned to the kids and finally introduced them to me – I had been fortunate enough to work from home all their lives. It was time for them to meet the hustler who would do whatever it takes to keep her family going.

Move 2
All staff but one now gone. Dogs settled in new homes. Laden with the trappings of a larger home we move into a maisonette. Somehow everything fits. Bliss. The kids are thrilled to live so close to other people and within no time they have friends. A few months later there are threats of a rent increase and at this point I spend more time working than anything else. It can only get worse if I have to raise this extra money. I want time with my family so its time to look for a cheaper place.

Move 3
Still laden with the trappings of a life now past we move into the sort of house I never really imagined myself living in. Built with no real plan but in a convenient area I’m just happy that everything can fit. Security isn’t great and the dust is annoying to say the least, but the price is good and getting the kids to school isn’t a nightmare. Two months later the election violence breaks out and I discover tribalism is real. The neighborhood borders a section of Kibera and it turns out some of us are not welcome. The kids and I have 24 hours to leave and that we do as we pray that everything we’re leaving behind will be safe.

Move 4
All the trappings are at the house we’ve left. Its holiday time and the kids and I are welcomed to the ex’s house. It’s a safety issue and I’m happy we’re all okay. Nightmare station – how can I be back in the same house with this man! God are you serious!!! Well suffice to say I am reminded of my IDP status daily and I bite back every word as I plan our great escape. By now I’ve managed to get all our stuff out of the old house and it’s in storage. Two months later I find a beautiful bungalow back in the suburbs. Kids lets go.

Move 5
Beautiful bungalow is like a wonderful treat after torture. We quickly settle in and it’s finally time to commit to some dogs again. The kids are thrilled. It’s starting to feel like an actual proper family again. Everything fits in the house and with time I accumulate more and more that I pack into the handy huge garage. We spend a glorious 2 years here and then the notice comes in: landlord wants to develop the property. Three months later we move and the dogs are given to loving homes.

Move 6
Corner maisonette in a gated community. Nice. This time we haven’t moved with much. I’ve sold as much of the extra trappings as I possibly can and I’ve finally finally gone through all the papers and mementos of a former life that I lugged around everywhere. And for the first time I feel truly free because now I can create new memories and traditions for my family. I don’t have to look back anymore with my what if’s. I finally understand that I’ve been given an awesome new slate and it’s a gift, not a burden. By the time I’m finished purging I have to call in a truck to haul all the garbage away.

Move 7
Well soon after moving into corner house I get a notice: landlord has decided to sell the property. Shock turns to anger. Seriously! And in anger I immediately give a months notice and make the biggest financial decision of my life – I am going to buy my own place. I rally the troops and share the outline of our newest adventure – we have to downsize and cut our expenses because I want to buy us our own place. It will take sacrifice and err we’re moving a bit further away, sort of past Ngong. Remember Ngong? Yes, yes towards Kiserian. Yes that’s Kajiado. I know baby …

And here we are. The hills to my back this urban pastoralist is content. Adjusting is a work in progress but wow what a journey it’s been. I’ve learnt that I’m a lot stronger than I imagined. I know now that I don’t need stuff to fuel my memories. I can take those anywhere, anytime. I’ve discovered that children are more resilient than we give them credit for and that nothing beats being who you really are with them. I’m no longer bothered by the opinions of peers and I will live my life to its beat. My eye is squarely on the prize.

I know a lot of women stay in damaging relationships out of fear and worry. How will they survive? What will happen to the children? What will people say? I cannot judge but many of us also asked those questions and the journey of re-discovery and healing has been tough yet incredibly rewarding.

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Each life is a personal journey no matter how public it may all seem at times! I'm still figuring it out and here I share my journey ...and what I'm discovering along the way.