Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 4th September

There is a song in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ that focuses on the importance of tradition. During the song, the character of Tevye talks about how his people would be nothing without their traditions.

I think I agree that some traditions are really important. There are others that mean not a very lot to me and some I just don’t understand, especially when it comes to institutions I do not have a close association with.

Parktown Girls has a tradition known as ‘Potted Sports’, which is the celebration of the school’s birthday. I once heard someone say that only a Parktown girl (current or past) could understand what Potted Sports is all about. I think they were right.

It was Potted Sports today and, of course, I was there. So was Sarah.

I also think, though, that it is like that with a whole lot of things: if you are closely involved with an institution, or group, then you understand the traditions that mean a lot, where others wouldn’t understand why they are even important. That’s what becomes part of what makes a group a group.

Sometimes, of course, there are traditions and practices that are just downright silly and of no use to anyone. At least from the outside.

Everything looks different from the outside looking in.

Today the girls and I had our photos taken at the photo booth. Prior to the whole cancer thing, I was used to the white bles in my hair standing out in photographs, particularly I think, because I don’t always notice it – at least, not as much as others do. Today, in the photos, not only did I notice the bles distinctly, but also how grey and curly my hair looked. I think that this had a whole lot to do with the fact that there was a flash involved and the camera was a little above us, so hair got prioritised slightly.

I didn’t think the photos were that flattering. (It’s often a bit of a shock to actually see oneself as others do 🙂 ) The girls, of course, said they were fine.

For me, though, it was more than what I actually look like in the photos. It was that the photos seemed to highlight my hair, which is such a big, visible change in me. They reminded me, again, about how this cancer thing has affected me.

I don’t mind having curly hair. I think it’s rather fun, as Mum would have said. I’m even fine with the fact that the cancer thing has changed me physically. Mostly, it’s simply a matter of ‘this is how it is and get on with things’.  It was just, at that moment, that it all kind of struck me in the face.

Every so often, this will happen. Every so often, for short moments, I will feel the weight of the whole journey. Every so often something will remind me.

And then it is gone. Then the outside and the inside match again and it’s just me doing life – a changed me, but still me all together.





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