When I finally landed in South Africa (after two days and three flights), I now had physical exhaustion to add to an already-wearied mind. Prior to the trip, an unexpected setback left me teetering. The optimistic joviality that had sustained me all summer was waning. And I found myself anxiously awaiting a second wind.
When I went to South Africa in 2010 to lead a creative writing club for teenage girls, I made sure to emphasize that word: club. I had never taught writing before, didn't have a teaching assistantship as I earned an MFA in nonfiction. I would not be correcting their grammar, nor assigning homework. Besides, how could I persuade girls to spend their Saturday afternoons in a writing class?
There is nothing inevitable about gun violence. And while the scandalously high rates of murder in both Brazil and South Africa are treated by many as "normal," there are encouraging signs of change. Targeted crime prevention measures and public health interventions pursued in both countries are cause for cautious optimism.
Eight years, eight cities: Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Bangkok, Berlin, Rome, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Sydney. And what do I have to show for all that time spent living outside the U.S.? Here are some highlights: at least twice as much romantic drama (and comedy) in half the time I spent in New York City, at least two books, and at least five valuable lessons in love and lust.