Browsing Tag

emotions

Shanana Malawi boat

Hi from Malawi

Malawi. I type the word and stare at it, say it over and over in my head. I google Malawi and get this from Wikipedia: The name Malawi is thought to derive from the word Maravi. The people of the Maravi Empire were iron workers. Maravi is thought to mean “Flames” and may have come from the sight of many kilns lighting up the night sky. The Shanana Malawi, docked at an island in Lake Malawi. I spent ten days in Malawi. On the ninth day, sitting in the beach bar at Fat Monkeys Lodge in Cape Maclear, eating a chicken mayo sandwich and staring out at the lake, I began mentally composing a blog post. As I was doing that, I started to cry and had to quickly wipe the tears away when a guy in the bar walked up and asked if I knew where to find an ATM. (I didn’t.) I wish I’d gone to my room right then and written the post. Now that I’m back in Joburg it seems kind of melodramatic and I’ve been stalling on blogging for three days now, because I need to write this before I can move on to anything […]

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Heather at Brightside Farm

Heartbreak: A Valentine’s Day Post

My alarm went off ages ago but I keep hitting snooze. Eyes closed, pretending it’s not morning, I imagine I’m in a doorway. I’m standing in the doorway and a huge, heavy steel door slams shut. Right in my face. I bring my hand to my face and everything feels intact. No blood, nothing broken. But it hurts like a motherf*cker. I stare at the slammed-shut door. Half my life is on the other side but I can’t see it or hear it or feel it anymore. I scream, bang on the door a few times. But it hurts my hand and my face is numb and what’s the point. The door is locked and I don’t have a key. That part of my life is gone. I should just walk away from the door but I keep standing there because my legs are paralyzed. I stand there and cry and there’s a breathless, splitting-open feeling inside my chest, like my heart and lungs are being torn out of my body and thrown on the ground and stomped on. Every morning, and several times throughout the day, every day, the feeling is the same. This is heartbreak. heartbreak (n.) also heart-break, […]

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Heather and Jon at the beach on the South Coast

19 December

I woke up feeling sad this morning. This was no real surprise as the last few months have been difficult for me. But I’d been feeling better for the past couple of weeks, so when the sadness returned this morning I felt a little disappointed. At about 8:30, lying in bed with the curtains still closed even though I’d been semi-awake for hours, I looked at the date on my phone. 17 December, it said. Oh right, I thought. It’s almost 19 December, the day Jon died. Jon. Jon died in 2011. His death was horrific and I suffered greatly, as did everyone else who loved him. While not a complete surprise, the death was sudden and I didn’t get to say goodbye. No one did. For the first year I thought about Jon at least 50 times a day. It felt like one of my limbs was missing. I fantacized about all the things I wish I’d said to Jon before he died. I went through months of therapy and 12-step meetings and emotional rehab. I cried in bed, in the shower, in coffeeshops, at concerts and church services. I tried to get angry but felt only sadness. In December […]

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Heather at Perron

8 Years, 800 Blog Posts

This is my 800th blog post. I lied a little bit in the title because it hasn’t actually been eight years — I published my first post on 26 June 2010. But close enough. I wasn’t sure I would write a post to commemorate this. 800 is a strange number — 500 (which I also blogged about) and 1000 seem more significant. But 800 is still a lot. Assuming an average of 600-650 words per post, I’ve written at least 500,000 words on this blog. Half a million! My name is Heather and I’ve written half a million words. Photo shot by Nina Neubauer at Perron in Melville — my new favorite lunch spot. This milestone comes at a poignant moment for me. I find myself pondering all that’s happened since I started the blog — seven years, four months, and fifteen days ago — and wondering what it all means. 2Summers started as a kind of expat travel journal and eventually morphed into an ongoing story about life in Johannesburg.  I think of it as a “culture blog”. Accidentally I think I’ve created something pretty unique. From time to time, 2Summers has also been a place where I pour out […]

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Heather and Smokey photoshoot 3

From the Melville Cat: A Breakup

From the Melville Cat: I’m writing this post as a favor to Heather. She’s been trying to write it for days — I’ve been watching her — but today she gave up and asked me to do it for her. Unlike my usual light-hearted feline musings, this is a serious post indeed. Ray does not live in our house anymore. Heather says it’s a breakup. I wasn’t familiar with this term before and I still don’t understand completely, as nothing is broken as far as I can see. I never saw any pieces of glass on the floor — something I always make sure to scamper away from. I don’t see any cracks in the furniture. All I know is, there used to be three of us and now there are two. A breakup? What exactly do you mean? It was confusing at first. Heather went away on a trip — she was already sad before she left — and while she was gone Ray carried some things out of the house. He seemed sad, too. On one particular morning during this time, Ray was very sad indeed. He carried some more things out of the house. I followed him […]

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Baby Jack

Musings From a Traveling Auntie

I’ve known for a while that I won’t have children. It wasn’t a conscious decision, at least not at first. It was just something that never happened, for a variety of reasons, and in recent years I’ve become pretty certain that being a mom isn’t for me. A few of my close friends have kids, but most don’t. I hardly thought about babies at all until last September, when my sister Susanna dropped me a Facebook Messenger bombshell that she was pregnant. (We live many thousands of miles apart and delivering news via Messenger is the norm for us.) I hadn’t considered how overjoyed I would feel at the prospect of becoming an aunt. Even though it would mean two long trips back home within a six-month period, there was no question I would travel to the U.S. to meet the baby after he was born. I might only become an auntie once. This is my nephew, Jack, at his house in Middlebury, Vermont. I met him when he was five weeks old. Susanna and Jack, moments after my dad backed over Susanna’s mailbox with his pickup truck. It was an exciting moment for everyone, Baby Jack included. My father, Tenney, meets his first grandchild. Baby Jack […]

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Shawn and Rodney at Randlords

Two Men Get Married on the Roof of Johannesburg

This week I went to a wedding at Randlords. The wedding was on Monday, December 19th, which might seem strange. But this is Johannesburg, where a wedding on a Monday evening in late December makes perfect sense. I felt a little sad the day of the wedding. That same day five years ago, also on a Monday, was the day Jon died. Just before the wedding, while Ray and I were waiting for an Uber to fetch us, we had a fight about pants. It was a stupid fight and it was my fault. Ray and I talked to the Uber driver on the way to the wedding but we didn’t talk to each other. Then we arrived at Randlords and took the express elevator to the 22nd floor. Randlords is an events venue in Braamfontein. It’s a rad spot for a wedding. The marriage at Randlords was between two men, Shawn and Rodney. I met Shawn and Rodney in 2012 at the Ansteys Building with their tiny baby, Xavier, who is now a grown-up boy. Shawn and Rodney met exactly ten years ago — December 19th, 2006 — on a street corner in Washington D.C. Shawn (left) an Rodney (right), on their wedding […]

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Something I’m Afraid Of

A few weeks ago, 2Summers was featured in a post called “Top 10 African Travel Blog Posts” in the Where Lions Roam blog. It was a nice feature and I was pleased to be included. But the description of my blog surprised me. “On an altogether more cheerful note this blog from an American-turned-Jozi-fan is great light reading and will educate you about many fun and quirky things to do in Johannesburg that most residents will not have encountered!” Seeing my blog described as “light reading” brought up an interesting mix of emotions. My homepage proves this description accurate: The most recent posts are about bakeries, walking tours, street food, and cats. I’m a lighthearted person and people seem to enjoy my lighthearted way of describing things. And there’s no reason for me not to be lighthearted, right? But light reading wasn’t my original intention for this blog — not my main intention, at least. When I started 2Summers in June 2010, I planned to make it an in-depth account of my emotional journey. You see, I was in the midst of divorcing my husband, who I was leaving for another man, and that man lived on another continent. This is a good story, I thought. […]

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A Year of Making Space

My friend Dee, who blogs at The Good Holiday, contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I wanted to work with her on a #365Days project in 2016. I traveled with Dee during my recent trip to Reunion Island. She is a warm, passionate, hilarious person and she loves teaming up with other bloggers on projects like this. Dee on a mountain in Reunion Island. So of course I couldn’t say no to her. But I’m not gonna lie: I was nervous. If you’re a regular on Instagram then you probably know what a #365Days project is. If not, let me explain. A #365Days project is basically a commitment to post an Instagram every single day, for an entire year, using one specific hashtag. I’ve seen people do 365 days of portraits, 365 days of jumpstagrams, 365 days of long-exposure shots, etc. I’ve never tried to do a #365Days project before but I did participate in a “100 Happy Days” project once, in which I posted a photo of something that made me happy every day for 100 consecutive days. It was freaking hard. I don’t like to post bad pictures on Instagram and sometimes it’s hard to come […]

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Reflections of a Jet-lagged Woman Between Continents

Over the past month I have been to the following places: Graaff-Reinet, and about seven other small towns around South Africa, Reunion Island, Istanbul (only for eight hours — will explain in a future post), Washington D.C. (I’m here now.) Fall leaves in Washington. I arrived just in time. Johannesburg is the one place where I haven’t been very much during the past month. As I’ve said many times before, I love traveling but I also hate being away from Joburg, especially for extended periods. I’m really grateful to be back in the United States at such a beautiful time of year and to reconnect with my American friends and family, some of whom I haven’t seen for years. Every time I come back to Washington I’m surprised by how lovely it is, how quaint the houses and shops and restaurants are, and how liberating it is to step out onto the street and just walk. Jeez, I miss walking when I’m in Joburg. People in South Africa often ask me if I “miss home”. My usual answer is no. I miss specific people and I miss certain things. But as I go about my day-to-day life in Africa, I don’t […]

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Home in Melville

Exactly five years ago, on August 6, 2010, I landed in Joburg and moved into a house in Melville. Several weeks before that, when I was still living in Washington, Jon had emailed me some photos of a house for rent in Melville. From the few things I’d seen and read, I already knew that Melville was the Jozi suburb where I wanted to live. And the moment I saw these photos, I knew that this Melville house was the house I would move into. The deck of the house in Melville, on a winter day in June 2010. The garden, featuring what would later become my favorite aloe tree. Jon sent photos of every room in the house, as well as the garden and the house’s exterior. I loved them all. But the photo that really captured me, the one that made me feel certain I would live in that house, was the shot of the lounge (the Americans among you would call it the living room). The room was huge, with parquet floors, large windows, and heart-shaped burglar bars. A man stood in the middle of the floor. That man’s name was Lucky. Lucky in the lounge of the Melville house.  Lucky was silhouetted and I couldn’t see […]

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For Ray

Dear Ray, Happy birthday. I’m glad I was able to find wi-fi so I can give you your present on the actual day. We met exactly a year ago, the day before your birthday. The time has flown by in a way, but I also can’t remember what life was like without you. I wanted to give you something cool for your birthday. You’ve immortalized my name all over Joburg in your graffiti pieces and I struggled to think of something similarly awesome. So I’m immortalizing you in the only way I know how, in my blog. You know I can’t draw so I asked my friend Fiver to make a sketch of you. I think she captured you perfectly — I hope you like it too. My life was great before but it’s become immeasurably better with you in it. I think you came at just the right time. Thank you for supporting me and cheering me on and making me laugh and feel happy. Thank you for adding so much color to my already colorful world. Also, thank you for being so strong and making me feel safe when I freaked out on that desolate mountain road in the Transkei two days ago. (The rest of you […]

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