i am going to Durban on Tuesday for a week. i could not be happier. Durban contains so many of my people.

My younger sister Dawn and her family is there for starters and so we will connect and have a great time. But also some of the people i just enjoy the most in the world [quite a big set of people to be honest] live in Durban and so any excuse to see them and hang out with them.

Magic Mike

Like this guy for example:

mike strauss friends

Dreadlock Mike Strauss has a gift [well, apart from the kick-ass dreads and being kinda okay on a few musical instruments and some other things…] in that he can make me laugh like no other person in the world.

And i mean consistently. Mike and i hang out, especially late at night, and the laughs will flow like the melted Top Deck and Nachtmusiek concoction we just crafted and drank moments before.

Mike has this great habit of making a declaration such as “Summer is cool!” and then, when i agree, he will spend the next forty minutes telling me why Summer is not cool. i have never known anyone to aggressively counter their own strongly-held opinions quite like Mike.

He has a contagious laugh and a wickedly naughty sense of humour and for some reason, when we hang out it just works. i seldom get to see Mike more than once a year and every time i do it’s like we had just hung out yesterday and we just step into this solid and incredibly relationship.

It doesn’t hurt that he is married to Nancy Twin, one of my long-ago youth group members and the three of us [or four when her sister Mary Twin is in town or five when tbV is present] all get along so really well.

But also great that he is involved in some insanely transformational work with HIV and that our conversations will always include much depth and world changery as well. Mike is the all-round package and i don’t get to spend enough time with him. #MoveToCapeTownAlready

The Teletubbies and the Melted Chocolate

These days, whenever i get to visit to Durban i generally get to stay with my friends Debbie and Barry Austwick [see cover pic with Leah Rudman in the background] and their growing clan. There will definitely be comparative laughs in that household as we tend to end up being nuts together and it is always so much fun [again, in between that we will solve all the world’s problems – having friends you can laugh and converse deeply with is the best gift of all!] and typically will result in them showing me some awful can’t-lose-this-imagery scenes from one of their hideous-things-that-happen-to-bodies-and-definitely-should-be-kept-off-the-tv-screen-when-there-is-melted-chocolate-in-the-room shows [i will never forget ‘testicle island’ and you should probably not ask].

But Debbie and i have been friends for at least 24 years and at most might see each other twice in the same year. It all started to get a little wild when i went to visit Durban back in the early days and was greeted by four full-costumed Teletubbies at the airport which started off a mad tradition of dressup at the airport which may have been somewhat responsible for this little gem:



The Teacher and the Barista

Next up would be my friend Bruce Collins who lives in Pretoria and if i am lucky get to see him for an hour every three to five years. Which sounds like a non kind of friendship, right? Except that when Bruce and i meet up, we literally step metaphorically right back into the closest of friendships that has been going on since 2004. I have an infographic he made for my 40th birthday on my wall and I just stood up to check the dates on it and sat down with a lump in my throat cos of rereading some of the incredible things he wrote about me.

But Bruce is the epitomy of what this blog post is about. The idea of friendships that don’t need facetime to flourish – such a depth and intimacy and trust has been reached that you can be apart for ten years and when you meet up it will be as if you had been hanging out yesterday and the month before that.

Do you have friends like that? i would have to say that beyond my faith and tbV that is the greatest thing i possess. And so someone could literally rob or burn down my house in my absence [please don’t!] and take my computer and my board games and even my stuffed dolphin and i would be more than okay, because the true treasure in my life is people, and particularly those i have forged deep relationships with.

King Solomon had something to say about this one: ‘A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’[Proverbs 18.24]

But in my case there are many many friends who stick closer than a brother and i am so super grateful for that. If you are reading this and thinking, ‘Sho, i don’t have that, that sounds really great,’ then the only advice i can think of is to work at becoming more of a friend who sticks closer than a sibling. Don’t look for it. Be it. And it will come to you.

Dispel the blindness

i wrote a post the other day about embracing colour in and around your life [in terms of people, rather than trying to be ‘colourblind’] and if this post was written four years ago, then my extensive list of friends sticking closer than brothers would have been overpoweringly white, to my shame.

In the last four years though, it has been incredible seeing that change for the better. Starting with the amazing legend that is my birthday twin, Mahlatse Mashua and his wife Lusanda without whom i would have thought Cardi B was some kind of jersey!

Mahlatse Mashua Cape Town better

But Mahlatse and Lusanda and their beautiful girls are a family we have prioritised spending time with this year and we are making the most of it while they still think we’re worth hanging out with for some reason. And once again it is such a beautiful combination of deep laugh and even deeper conversation.

What is particularly amazing about these relationships [although it is largely true for most of the others in fact] is that this is a Val and me thing, rather than just me. As a couple and as a family we just connected so deeply and it is incredible to be driving towards a family you are just so stoked to hang out with.

Keegan and Lindsay are another couple that personify this and it is in equal effect laughs and board games and wrestling with the way the country is and could be. Ashley and Helene are friends i have known for a long while but it’s been particularly in the last four years since returning from America that our friendship has grown wider and deeper and when Ashley busts out his dance moves the laughs are sure to flow there as well.

Our housemates Aaron and Sarah from Oakland in the States come to mind as do my Guardians pack and especially David Barta who i’ve stayed in greater contact with. And… and… and…

This is an area where Social Media has been super great in terms of keeping some kind of connection with a lot of these more distant people, so even if you don’t see them for a year or two you get to glance into their lives and happenings and adventures from time to time and be reminded of their madness and excellence in pictures and stories and more.

i think it’s okay to have some friends who are not ‘Yesterday Friends’ and probably most people’s friends fall into that category. Friendships that need time and attention and some that fade away a little if you don’t have that.

But this post is about expressing gratitude for the depth of love and laughter that i have received and continue to receive from people who i know love and deeply value me in and around their lives. For this i am so so grateful.

Durban, i am coming for you…

[Disclaimer: the danger of starting to mention names is that you leave people out – i have left a whole lot of people out in this post, including a lot of my best friends in Cape Town – this is not a comprehensive list at all but just a brief highlight of a deep and meaningful thing]