To her, this picture means, “coming home, leaving behind, always there, not there anymore.” “Coming home” is reflected in the window’s reverse image of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in Cape Town. It’s also a refection of her uncle, who took her when she was sixteen to renew her American passport to make sure she could keep her prized citizenship; her uncle, who died of cancer, who is “not there anymore.”
The serendipitous gift of Yvette’s American passport, which made her special and fortunate when she was younger at home in South Africa, was also the thing that opened doors to her that were closed to her loved ones. She wrote to thirty universities and told them she had a dream of coming to America, but that she had no money. She was awarded a scholarship to a small liberal arts college in the Southeast. Working her way to Europe and then onto a plane to the States, she arrived with a cardboard suitcase tied up with bailer twine and six hundred dollars.
The most difficult part for Yvette was saying goodbye. She most misses her grandmother’s voice saying, “Hello poppet,” playing Scrabble with her, sharing meals with her uncle, or walking and talking with him along the beach, all with this backdrop of The Mountain.
By now, she’s lived in America as long as she lived in her homeland – 21 years – and her home is here. That’s “home” with a lower case “h.” The upper case “Home” is still her place of origin, her source, even if she doesn’t belong there anymore – and the strangest part is that they are both fully home. The best part, Yvette says, about making her home here is, “freedom of choice, opportunity, safety, new beauty, and prosperity.” She’s certainly made the most of it. That scholarship to a small liberal arts college in the Southeast? It led to a Ph.D. in education.