The Comfort Series is an exploration of moments that have gathered me and made me feel at home. This is a snapshot of moments that ground and reinforce existing as myself. It's all so comforting.

This morning (30 June), my second morning taxi slowed down near at a malfunctioning robot as road law demands. To my left was a no-frills mall, a symbol of upper middle class "previously white" suburbia. The building is an offending brown with green branding. Immediately, I spotted a culturally appropriative ribs den and thought Heather and I would enjoy it.

Heather -- whom I sometimes tentatively refer to as "my friend Heather" when I am formulating smart commentary that involves her in my head -- and I know each other from the internet. We work together and are currently brainstorming a project to partner on but we still -- above all else -- know each other from the internet. We send each other memes, I'm not grossed out when she engages with my  "content" that's unrelated to work.

Ever since we began interacting irl ( forced by capitalism/my needing a job) we have slowly fallen into a routine of sometimes doing things together. I'm the sort of internet person who believes there is never a good enuf reason to meet people away from your computer or cell phone. I am at my best on screen: not as filtered, not self-conscious, a little more...considered. It's all downhill irl, I don’t have the opportunity to leave a mention on read and come back to it later. In January, after my 24th birthday for which I especially took leave from work so I could be alone, I went back to work with a big declaration: Nando's is trash. After I told her exactly what I had, a rice mixture, lemon herb chicken, the potato wedges -- bless the wedges -- she told me that was not the correct thing to have done. Since then, we have eaten grilled chicken, a spinach bowl thing, wedges and those rolls. We've eaten samp and beans with mutton (I had my samp with tripe). Often, we joke about the rolls and butter they serve you while you wait for your food at a seafood place. Or the bread and soup bowl she had at a pizza place.

Us in 2017. For a while, we would spend Mondays at a pizza place for their 2-for-1 special and eat Paul's Homemade Icecream after.

Very early into this routine, we started going to look at clothes before we ate. In my early teens -- but especially in my mid-teens when I just wanted to eat, read and sleep -- I decided I hated shopping. I hated that, once a month, my mother would want my sister, cousin and I to be ready by eight. And the walking. And queueing. But the being out of the house by eight on a Saturday morning was by far the worst. During those days, when twelve o’clock rolled around, her small income would have been budgeted and dispensed meticulously: accounts paid, lunch and school supplies bought, non-perishables, meat and veggie for two weeks on lock, bus ticket money set aside, lay-buys paid. Around that golden lunch hour, she would queue one last time, it would be finally time to call out your order and wait at a table for the food. An hour? Two? I don't know how much time passed as we sat at those tables eating. But, of course, as we blissed out, the time would again come for us to pick up the heavy bags and head for home. By the time I was 15, I opted out of the days. Sleeping longer, doing a few more chores and waiting for my family to return with my food. My mother fell ill, then died and the queueing and carrying -- and, eventually, moving money around -- became primarily mine to do.

But here I am, the sworn enemy of malls, shops and queues, now looking at clothes or smelling lotions and swatching liquid lipsticks while a girl I know from the internet does the same in a different aisle. Sometimes our paths cross and we exchange clever quips, why are celebrity fragrances so expensive. Or serious decisions are pending, she wants to buy a hair iron.
I find comfort in this. Even after a long day at work, I look forward to our arrangements. Sometimes, while she gives me a lift to a central taxi hub I hint that we should do a food thing or a window-shopping thing. Sometimes I ask her to drop me at one of the most disgusting malls on this continent and go look at clothes for fat people -- it’s not quite the same. Maybe I relish this arrangement because I have not had people in a long time. Not that I'm saying this person is my person in any way.

This is one of the first things I wrote when I started really thinking about exploring the different things that comfort me. This was in 2016 and days before this post. The title is from then too and I've decided to keep even though I don't know WTF I meant. The featured image is me window shopping alone before my friend's event.

Thank you for reading

PS: Read more from The Comfort Series