“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and for there you will long to return.”
This is a quote by Leonardo da Vinci, neatly captioned underneath a photograph I once double tapped on Instagram. I remember scrolling past this and thinking of how it made me feel. Like a loose thread, it unraveled a little bit more than I was hoping for and here we are, backtracking to December of 2013 – the year I moved from my home in Cape Town, South Africa and ventured to Rotterdam, Netherlands.
At the time, my family had arrived in winter, a winter I wasn’t used to as this December was far from the cozy sunshine that once lit up my old room in the morning and the golden sands my feet would sink into on lazy afternoons. No, this was different; it was pouring with rain and each howl of wind felt like a cold slap in the face. We had settled in quite nicely at our new home; my sister and I were enrolled in an international school and we became used to the system; wearing our own clothes instead of uniform, summer starting in June, celebrating holidays such as Thanksgiving, replacing ‘yes’ with ‘yeah’ and ‘maths’ with ‘math’. It seems simple, but these changes made the world of a difference every time we visited South Africa in the European summer. My friends would tell me I sounded different, that I looked different and I remember thinking that I was still just me and everything else was changing. I am older now and it took me three years to realize it was precisely the opposite.
Much has happened since that very first December; I have graduated high school and I know this because I tossed a graduation cap in the air and that’s supposedly the way to seal the deal along with anxiously waiting to receive your diploma in the post – but I could be wrong. In late June of 2016, I was accepted to study Global Communication at a university in another city and received a three-year study visa, a promise of a fresh start and the right to include the hashtag #NewYearNewMe on every social media platform I could remember the password to. I also somehow managed to adult and moved into (and out of) my very first apartment. I have moved again and I am writing this from my new room, burritoed in a fluffy pink blanket. I live in a student apartment with four other students whom I barely see because I’m a second-year rookie and they’re constantly busy as they are master students; older, sophisticated or possibly wearing camouflage 24/7. When I have nothing to do after a long day at uni, I journal, loopy handwriting decorating lined pages as my thoughts spill out in ink form. How the heck does the universe decide to give opportunities and why am I one of them, I wonder. Like something stuck in your teeth that you can’t quite get out with by just using your tongue, this thought looms at the back of my head and it sometimes it bugs me.
I don’t know if everyone has a purpose, I certainly don’t know if I do, but there’s this little lyric from the 70’s song ‘In The Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry where the lead singer croons, “Life’s for living, that’s our philosophy” and I’ve decided to do just that. Not the most profound thing you’ve ever read, I am aware, but when my eyes turn skywards I know that I’ll soon have another plane to catch and I must make every second count where I currently am. Though I long to be up in the air, peering out of the ovular windows of the airplane and admiring its wings, I know that it’ll swoop down in a few hours and I’ll be somewhere new. There is so much to see in this world. So much to be involved in, to create, to change and you and I, dear reader, we’re just getting started.
Words by Miah Ke-leigh // Photography by Emma Robinson.
© 2017 Reef Magazine