Heather and Jon in Tanzania, March 2007

Lockdown Journal: Day 16 (My 1000th Blog Post)

If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day (now 35-day) lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts.

Welcome to Lockdown Day 16, and to my 1000th blog post of all time.

Heather and Jon
Lockdown photo Day 16: Jon and me, March 2007 (from an old photo album).

Just for today, I’ve decided to put aside all lockdown and COVID-19 talk. We’ve got a minimum of 19 more days of lockdown and I imagine you’re just as tired of reading about it as I am of writing about it.

I’ve published 1000 blog posts over the past decade. (The ten-year anniversary of 2Summers is also approaching, on 26 June.) It’s not every day that a blogger gets to say that. So today I’m going to indulge myself a bit, forget about the global pandemic, and tell you a story about how this blog started in the first place.

To do that I need to back up to March 2007, when I traveled to Tanzania.

* * * * * * * * * *

I’m 32 and it’s my first trip to Africa. Traveling to Africa for a writing-related work assignment (I work in communications for and HIV/AIDS nonprofit in Washington) is a dream come true for me. I can’t actually believe it’s happening.

I’ll be visiting Tanzania and Rwanda on this trip, and I’ve planned once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experiences around my work commitments in both countries. I shopped carefully for the right clothes and gear. I made lists and started packing my suitcase days in advance. I bought guide books and spent hours pouring over Tripadvisor traveler forums.

I figure this will be the only trip to Africa I’ll ever take. I’m happily married, living in the suburbs, and I’ll probably have a kid soon.

My plane lands at Arusha’s Kilimanjaro airport in the early evening. I disembark from the plane and manoeuvre through immigration, feeling a zing of excitement as the officer stamps my passport. I pick up my bag and walk into the arrivals area, filled with khaki-clad tourists and shuttle drivers holding signs.

At this point, it occurs to me I don’t know who is picking me up.

I pull out my Blackberry — a hockey puck with a black-and-gray screen and plastic keyboard buttons — which the IT department issued me specifically for this trip.

I fumble to find the number for Jeffrey, the logistics guy, and type it into the phone. “Your call cannot be completed as dialed,” the Blackberry tells me. I have no idea how to dial an international number on a mobile phone.

I wander outside, heart pounding, trying to act nonchalant. I look around for someone, anyone, who might be looking for me. Some cab drivers lounge near the curb.

“Taxi?” one of them asks.

“No thanks!” I call, and march back inside.

I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn around. The person standing there, I soon learn, is Jon.

Heather in Tanzania
A photo Jon took of me a few days after we met, while we were working together at a primary school in Tanzania.

* * * * * * * * * *

I’m not sure I believe in love at first sight, in the same way I’m not sure I believe in God. But if love at first sight does exist, that moment was the closest I’ll ever come to it.

Meeting Jon was not a romantic comedy meet-cute. Our relationship was messy and tumultuous and painful, kind of like a tornado. It left a lot of damage in its wake. I can’t explain what happened to us all in one blog post; I’ve been meaning to write a book about it for years. I still believe that book will happen, someday.

For now though, I thought I’d tell just a bit of that story for my 1000th blog post.

There are very few things I’m certain of — especially now — but one thing I know for sure is my life in South Africa exists because of Jon. Meeting Jon was — and always will be — the most important thing that’s ever happened to me.

Three-and-a-half years after that first meeting in Kilimanjaro Airport, I was talking to Jon on Skype. He was at home in Joburg, covering the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a photographer for the European PressPhoto Agency. I was in Washington, preparing to move across the world and start a life with him.

It was late in the afternoon for me and late at night for Jon. Joburg was cold and DC was hot. Jon was wearing a winter coat and a beanie as we spoke through our laptop screens.

“I’m going to start my blog tomorrow,” I told him. We’d been speaking about this for a while.

“Brilliant!” Jon said. “What are you going to call it?”

I was still struggling with that part. We brainstormed some ideas: switching countries, switching continents, changing hemispheres, changing…seasons.

“It’s winter there and summer here,” I pointed out. “Something about seasons?”

“You’ll be leaving America at the end of summer, and moving here just before summer begins,” Jon said.

“I’ll have two summers,” I said. “Two summers?”

Two Summers. I wrote it down. 2Summers. It looked nice.

2Summers. That was the name. The next day I went to WordPress.com and pressed the “Start your blog” button. I named the blog 2Summers and wrote my first post.

Almost ten years and 1000 posts later, here I am. Locked down at home in Joburg, still blogging. Amazingly I still haven’t run out of things to say.

Jon isn’t here anymore but I know he’s proud of me.

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47 Comments

  • Reply Albert April 11, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    So bittersweet.

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      Indeed.

    • Reply Catherine April 11, 2020 at 8:33 pm

      Very touching post which brought back many memories for those of us who have been following you for 10 years now. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

      • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 8:38 pm

        Thank you very much for all your support Catherine!

  • Reply Timmee April 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    🖤 still waiting for the book

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      One of these days it’s happening.

  • Reply Lucienne April 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Super congratulations Heather, 1000 blogs is an amazing achievement! I hope you will write your book one day, I know it will be a most inspiring story to tell. Here’s to your next 1000 posts.

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks so much Lucienne.

  • Reply Marliz3e April 11, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Cannot wait to read that book one day! Congrats on your 1000th and may there be 1000 more!!

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm

      I hope there will be 🙂

      • Reply zimbo64 April 11, 2020 at 8:46 pm

        Congratulations on 1000th. You are amazing! I have followed your journey from the beginning and I am so glad that I found your blog! Well done! ❤️

        • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 8:58 pm

          Thanks so much Debbie. I really appreciate all your support over the years!

  • Reply Lesley Clark April 11, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    heart hugs. xx

  • Reply Libby Edwards April 11, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    You will write a good book. Congrats!

  • Reply Brenda R April 11, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    Congratulations! One of the things I admire about you and your blog, apart from your enthusiasm and always positive attitude even when writing about very tough things, is your amazing persistence. My wordpress file shows several other blogs I enjoyed but which have fizzled and disappeared, often without a “goodbye”. I always look forward to seeing yours and, embarrassingly, it feels as if you are a real life friend. You do cheer me up…… and you have actually helped ground me in my (interminable!) memoir project, writing about my childhood in SA. So please keep it up!

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Brenda. That really means a lot to me! I can’t wait for the memoir – I’m sure you’re ahead of me! 😂

  • Reply Margaret Urban April 11, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Congratulations on the 1000th blog. Virtual hug.

  • Reply Caroline April 11, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    So sad. Or so bittersweet as Alfred says. For me am glad my elders and some other loved ones are gone – this is a time when it’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to look after each other. But am positive people will look back this time next year & be proud of what extraordinary things ordinary people achieved

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks Caroline. That’s definitely true.

  • Reply Caroline April 11, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    Am expecting you to be documenting that!

  • Reply Clifford Els April 11, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    1000 posts. You have taken us on a roller-coaster ride that is always filled with enthusiasm and compassion for Africa.
    Without a doubt Africa is in your blood and we are all enriched from you.

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks so much Clifford! I appreciate your support over the years.

  • Reply Catrina April 11, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    That photo that Jon took of you with the kids is perfect.
    I think love at first sight does exist. You must have been a perfect match.
    Congrats on your 1000th post! Jon is definitely proud of you.

  • Reply Russell Pollitt April 11, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Congratulations Heather and keep writing. You get people and life, you pictures word pictures! Thank you!

    • Reply 2summers April 12, 2020 at 6:08 am

      Thanks a lot Russell. Hope you’re doing well in all this.

      • Reply Russell Pollitt April 12, 2020 at 6:26 am

        I cannot spell, must be lockdown. Should have read “you paint word pictures” …. I am doing ok. Goes up and down day to day… Not an easy time. Stay safe!

        • Reply 2summers April 12, 2020 at 6:27 am

          Indeed. Happy Easter 🙂

  • Reply Helen Finlay April 11, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    I’ve read most of your Blog over the last 10 years and it’s been my lifeline back to Joburg. It’s helped me keep in touch with places and events and memories of my youth. I grew up in the Northern Suburbs and went to school in Rosebank. As a nurse I spent much time in the 1990s in Yeoville and Hillborw on community placements and I love that you love these places so much. Every time I return home I try and visit a few of your recommendations.
    Thank you for bringing the unloved parts of Joburg alive.

    • Reply 2summers April 12, 2020 at 6:09 am

      Thank you so much Helen! Hopefully I (we) can start getting out and exploring again soon.

  • Reply Lani April 12, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Congratulations! You know, I’ve always wondered how you got that name because its a good name, and it stands out. Most people have conventional expat blog names like {name} in {country} but I love your story! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Reply 2summers April 12, 2020 at 6:11 am

      Thanks! I also feel really fortunate to have discovered a good name (with Jon’s help) totally by accident without realizing how important it would be later.

      • Reply Lani April 12, 2020 at 6:25 am

        Yes, and that photo of you with the kids is so sweet.

        • Reply 2summers April 12, 2020 at 6:27 am

          He was a very talented photographer 🙂

  • Reply Graham Burgess April 12, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Congratulations we are privileged to have you in Jozi 😘

  • Reply Tenney Mason April 12, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    This is an amazing achievement Heather. I’m so proud.
    Love Dad

  • Reply David Bristow April 13, 2020 at 7:31 am

    That’s a story that sounds very much like a book to me! Also as an ex-Joburger, I like to live vicariously through your blogs.

    • Reply 2summers April 13, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Thanks David. The book will get written sooner or later. Maybe sooner if this never-ending lockdown doesn’t end 😂

  • Reply Sara Essop April 13, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Congratulations on your 1000th post. Wow, it’s been quite a journey for you! I’m looking forward to the book 🙂

    • Reply 2summers April 13, 2020 at 8:04 am

      Thank you so much Sara 🙂

  • Reply Tumtum April 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I’m so happy for you to reach this milestone Heather. Thank you for all your hard work and sharing your heart with us.

    • Reply 2summers April 14, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks! And thank you for reading all these years 🙂

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