Sweet and Sour

10 March 2010

Riding in the flatbed of a bakkie (pick-up truck), with the Director, Cinematographer and Stuntmen. Bumping over potholes, on the dark, dusty, unlit street. The hum of the truck and the wind and the village dogs in strange harmony. Lights from the film set fading in the distance as we approach base camp. Where cast and crew will eat “lunch”, at midnight.  Under a near full, orangish-yellow, South African moon.

Yes, this is why I took a sabbatical…so as not to miss these surreal moments. I feel light years away from my tiny cubicle on the 30th floor in Times Square in New York City.

We are in Tembisa township. The homes, made of tin, coils, old billboards and government plaster are strung together like colorful pearls around the neck of Johannesburg, the City of Gold. Electricity is sporadic, when available. There are outhouses, dirt floors, fire pits. Sanitation is nil. Privacy is scarce – community is paramount.

The people of Tembisa gather around to catch a glimpse of the filmmaking perched on the hill, a stage to their settlement. The children find a reason to celebrate and break into song and dance – our floodlights, their spotlights. The adults clamor for the best view and, enamored with their proximity to the action, they revel over beer, cigarettes and hearty jokes. When they tire of “action, cut, reset” the 6-year-olds tie the 1-year-olds to their backs, take an adult’s hand and walk, barefoot, on home to sleep.

At 3am the shoot wraps. We get into our foreign cars and drive to our suburbs. Wave to the security guards and enter our gated communities. Lock the doors. Turn on all the lights. Shower. Rest our heads on soft pillows and curl up in clean white sheets. Sleep.

Something about this sweet and sour juxtaposition makes me feel older, wiser, grateful, responsible. And when I return home, it will travel with me over the light years to my tiny cubicle on the 30th floor in Times Square in New York City.


5 Responses to “Sweet and Sour”

  1. andy wanner Says:

    U, MY DAUGHTER, are a POET

  2. Heather Says:

    as I sit here in Panera…eating my American tomato soup, and sipping my cold coffee beverage with whipped cream….I am crying tears. Thank you for taking me to your world.

  3. Marmalad Says:

    Stunningly beautiful. You capture with a melody that moves to tears and rapture simultaneously. Remarkable.

  4. Katie Walter Says:

    Aubrey Layne that entry was too beautiful for words. I’m glad that God is so richly blessing you during this sabbatical. Can’t wait to hear the stories in person in a few weeks!!

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