Ten years ago today, I opened wordpress.com for the first time and started this blog. I published a short, not terribly interesting post about why I named the blog 2Summers and my recent experience obtaining an international driver’s license for my impending move from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg. (I started the blog six weeks before moving.)

There were no photos in that first post and I didn’t share it on social media. About five people read it at the time.

Heather on Koppies
Since there were no photos in that first post, here’s a picture of me on the Melville Koppies, which appeared in my blog a couple of months later. (Photo: Jon Hrusa)

It’s strange that this ten-year anniversary is happening so soon after I celebrated the publication of my 1000th blog post. Ten years, 2010 to 2020, 1000 posts, 100 posts per year…Everything is so neatly divisible by ten. Nine has always been my lucky number but maybe it should be ten.

It’s also strange to be experiencing all these huge personal milestones during a global pandemic, which — much like the past ten years of my life — feels at once both unfathomable and inevitable.

New people are always asking: How did you wind up in South Africa? If the time is right, and the person asking the question is right, I’ll occasionally give a detailed answer. But most of the time I deliver a simple one-liner — “I moved here to be with my South African boyfriend” — and hope that will suffice. If the person probes further I’ll say something like, “It’s a long, dramatic story”, or “It was an Eat Pray Love kind of thing.”

Eat Pray Love, a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, was published in 2006. It’s about a 30-something American woman writer, married and preparing to have children, who suddenly realizes she’s unhappy. She abruptly leaves her husband, experiences acute emotional turmoil, then gets a book deal and embarks on a one-year journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia, where she rediscovers her passion for life, finds her true self, and of course meets a wonderful man at the end. (She later divorces that man but it happens in another book.)

I’m not sure exactly when I read Eat Pray Love, probably around 2008 or 2009. But I distinctly remember sitting on the train on my way home from work and reading the passage in which Liz finds herself sobbing on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night, knowing she has to tell her husband she’s leaving him. I was thunderstruck but didn’t know why.

I didn’t realize that at some point soon, I was going to experience a nearly identical moment to Liz’s moment on the bathroom floor. I had no idea that on a freezing January night in the very near future, I would stand on the deck of my suburban townhome, take a deep breath and a drag from a cigarette, and say to my husband: “I am living the wrong life.” Then pack a suitcase the next morning and leave and never come back. To this day, I still can’t believe I did that.

I didn’t realize I was about to embark on a parallel journey to Liz Gilbert’s, except my journey would be ten-plus years instead of one. And I didn’t have a book deal.

I didn’t realize that more than ten years later, I would be sitting in my house in Johannesburg watching the film adaptation of Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts. I did that last night, on the eve of my ten-year blogiversary. Somehow I’d never watched the film before and suddenly there it was, staring at me on Netflix. I pressed play.

I wound up turning it off two-thirds of the way through — the Eat Pray Love film is nowhere near as good as the book. But it did give me an idea for this blog post.

I think I can do what Liz Gilbert did. Maybe my book won’t be a number-one New York Times bestseller and the most successful memoir of all time, but I think I can make a book about this decade of my life. I just need to figure out a way to be clever and brave like Liz was, and sit the fuck down and write it.

That was my original intent when I started this blog: It was meant to be the jumping-off point for a book. Then 2Summers turned into something else and I got sidetracked, for a decade.

I need to do it now — I KNOW I do — and the signs seem to be pointing me in that direction. I’m not yet ready to say I definitely will do it. But I probably will, soon.

Heather on koppies 2011
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