It is very easy to confuse an officemate with someone you are meant to be friends with forever and ever. I think it’s because we spend so much time in the office that we end up spending more time with our colleagues than with our actual friends, relatives and family.
For the most part, I tried to avoid making friends in the office. Looking back, this naïve plan did not work out that well because the majority of my friends in Cape Town are journalists who I worked with at some point or met through mutual friends.
So Nontando was in the Cadet School a year or so after me.
When she was done with her training she was assigned a desk next to me.
She and I hit it off because she was into most of the things that appealed to my journalism sides.
She loved partying, dressing up, had lived in chic places overseas, fine dining was our thing (she, Wendyl and I started a dinner club where we dined at a top-rated Cape Town restaurants each month), fashion (she started a fashion label, NoyoCloset, that made some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe), events and she convinced me to try yoga. Anyone who managed to convince me to pay to stretch inside a hot yoga studio in the name of keeping fit is surely a friend of mine because I really hate exercise that looks and feels like my muscles are doing any actual work.
Basically, we were likers of things in Cape Town and our job allowed us to do that and we enjoyed every minute of it.
She was always interested in lifestyle journalism, which she now does full time at the Cape Argus while also balancing the work of running her clothing label and trips overseas to do some modeling.
What I love about her, besides the fact that she is a kickass and supportive friend, is that she is driven and has found a way to make her interests into a career.
She is always there for a laugh or to listen or offer advice – even when she is on a different time-zone.
Nontando also has a sunny disposition. She really loves her life and she is happy and even when we find ourselves on the bitchy side of complaining about how fucked up things up, we always make it out with a plan of sorts or at least a reason to see the bright side.
This is so important in an industry like journalism where everything looks bleak or hopeful depending on where you are sitting. We are in the later group which also being realistic by finding ways to make money off our other skills.
So I miss the long conversations with her and Wendyl over the most delicious three course dinners while good wine also flowed. I miss champagne sessions at sunset on Wendyl’s balcony. I miss going to yearly events like the Queen’s Plate, J&B Met, Polo and Fashion Week. I miss our office conversations with another colleague Sipokazi where we always found something to laugh about even when it felt like our newsroom was the most bleak place to be in at that time.
I was a bit sad when she was planning to emigrate to the Netherland and I was happy when she found more reasons to stay.
Who knew that I’d be the one leaving town but Joburg is not Europe and we still see each other often enough and chat long enough to check each other when we get too negative and did each other out of self pity long enough to realize that there are cocktails to be had on another time-zone but in order get there we need to work. Sigh.