Moving to Jo'burg, for my in-service journalism training course. It got me away from the fundamentalist, patriarchal pseudo-Christian freak family into which I would have married, and introduced me to a world in which I was responsible for myself, not being second-guessed or nannied by my own family, or told what to wear by his.
I am the world's worst journalist - I hate interviewing people, asking probing questions, getting up in people's faces. but in the 16 years I've been working, I have never met as many stand-out, odd, weird, amazing people as I did during my various stints in newsrooms. Being in the corporate world - like when I was in PR for a whole three months, and my latest stint as an intranet manager - is completely different. For one thing, while I adore my colleagues in this particular job, they will never be the family I turn to throughout the year. I'm still meeting up with folks from my very first job, at the national broadcaster, in '91.
Journalists, here in South Africa, are an odd bunch. The way in which we pick at each other, laugh, cry, support, snipe, backstab ... we really are family. The things I say to my former colleagues - and what they say right back to me - would get us sent straight to court by the Human Rights Commission, for slander, bigotry, racism, sexism, ageism ... you name it. Political correctness has gone too far, when John and I have to be careful what we say and where we say it, in case the public's listening.
Still, that was my life-changer - coming into an environment in which race exists, but racism doesn't. A pity it's not that way in newsrooms across the country. South Africa needs more colour-blindness.