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