This blog post was written on 3 October 2013- my one-month anniversary with Cape Town.

Well, it’s official. I’ve been in Cape Town for exactly a month as of today. This last month has seemed impossibly long (there have been moments where I swear the clock actually stopped), and yet it went by in the blink of an eye. Time is funny that way. People say time moves like that sometimes- such as when you’re falling in love. It’s strange to say, but that applies to me.

I’m falling in love with Cape Town. I’m falling in love with my community, with Table Mountain, with Afrikaans, with South Africa, with the horrible soap operas on TV every night, with the people who are accepting me into their lives, and with a life lived simply and deeply. And like every love story, this one is messy and complicated and will probably involve heartbreak. But let’s be logical and start at the beginning.

This love story begins like so many do in today’s day and age: with the Internet. The first pictures I saw online of Cape Town took my breath away. Was it true? Would I really get to move to this paradise? The next thing I knew I was getting off of a bus (after a 24-hour ride), alone in a new city, and in awe. Those first few days together went by in a blur. I couldn’t get enough of the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the newness of it all. I thought about how people warned me that this might be hard and I might feel frustrated, and I realized they suddenly seemed ridiculous. How could it be hard to live in Cape Town? How could I ever be bothered by any flaws? Surely, I thought, this time I had managed to find the kind of perfect love so many people search for.

So, it started like any other love story. I was infatuated. Days passed, then weeks, and I couldn’t imagine finding any more room in my heart when it was so full.  Every new thing I learned about Cape Town was great. Even the bad things just seemed like funny little quirks. In hard moments, I would walk outside and look at the wildflowers or Table Mountain, I would listen to the Call to Prayer in my new ‘hood, or I would take a deep breath and enjoy the crisp air after a long rain. It seemed like life could go on like this forever, like this new love would sustain me completely and indefinitely.

And then, like every relationship, things stopped being perfect and started being real. These “funny little quirks” became real flaws. I was reminded that no person, no place, could be perfect. Suddenly, walking outside wasn’t helpful. I just wanted to see some familiar desert landscape, to be in a place where I fit in, and for it to just stop raining already. And that’s when I had a hard realization. 

The Honeymoon is over.

This relationship, like all relationships, won’t be perfect and easy. It will take work. Sometimes it will take hard work, so hard it seems impossible. There will be so many moments where I just want to give up. There have already been moments where I have thought of throwing in the towel (in my case, the compact quick-dry camping towel). I dream of packing up my oversized and ever-expanding luggage (which will be easy because I still haven’t unpacked…more on that later) and catching the first flight out of Cape Town, back to safety and security and my comfort zone.

But then, I take a moment, say a prayer, and think of all the things I love about this place, and the people I am starting to love in this place. As it turns out, they outnumber and outweigh the things that drive me crazy. I remember that my comfort zone was a little bit too comfortable, and that I’m in the middle of a fantastic adventure. Yes, some days suck. But some days suck no matter where you are or whom you love. And I have so much more that I want to learn and experience here. I have met people who I can’t imagine saying goodbye to. I’m not done seeing, smelling, listening, or growing in Cape Town.

So here we are, one month in. I’m in this for the long haul. I am in a committed relationship with the city of Cape Town, even on days I wish I wasn’t. God help me, I’m falling in love.