That vast, loving heart

Dear Laszlo, I revamped my website. When I started, the folder on my laptop housing early copy revisions and new images was called “Website revamp: April 2020”. It’s now September. I don’t know what happened to the time. Actually, I do. Covid happened. And I lost the person who started it in the first place: you.

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Love, a loch and an empty seat

“You want to go upstairs, don’t you?” His eyes glint with amusement and prophecy. He knows we won’t stay here long, down here where it is warm and dry, where we are protected from the bitter winds that run the length of the loch, picking up droplets from the clouds above and the waters below and turning them to needles as they strike our faces.

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The flowers we laid around their heads

I don’t know how to write about this. I don’t even know if I should. But I don’t know what else to do with my body today, and with the emotions and thoughts that rage within it like bees trapped inside a glass jar. Instinctively, I open a blank page and stare at its blinking cursor.

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Turn left and leave it all behind

There’s an unmistakeable moment – just one – that completely captures solo travel for me. It is the instant, relieved of my bags and assured of a place to sleep for the night, that I step out onto a foreign street in well-worn (but usually impractical) shoes

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The cobble stones of memory lane are made of music

Voices mumble and a guitar starts up, a gentle melody to which Steve soon starts singing in French. “No no no, wait, please stop,” I hear my 19-year-old voice say more than once. “Please. Start again

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The passions we misplace

The first time I tried to read The English Patient, it took me seven months and I laboured through every word. I endured it because it was a gift and I felt obliged, but I absorbed nothing. Two years later, I was obliged again when it found its way onto

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Under the sycamore tree

Imagine skin stripped from flesh. Imagine only the muscles and tendons and fascia beneath, sinewy and strong, revealing and raw. For a couple of metres from her roots up, that’s what she reminds me of: a body exposed to its essentials

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Seven lessons in seven months of freelance

September marks seven months of freelance. Seven months of buying groceries with the pensioners at 11am on a Wednesday, of riding the waves of desperate anxiety and joyous I-got-a-gig relief

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The fierce fortunes of transient love

“Put this on,” he says. “You’re going to need it.” “What for?” “We’re going out.” “You can’t be serious. It’s snowing.” “Which is why you’re going to need my coat. Put it on.”

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Fall on your feet

When I was living in Toronto, I learnt why the Canadians call it fall. It’s not because of the leaves that descend; instead, it’s the invisible fire in the sky. My sense is that it’s always there, the fire. I imagine it gaining in strength during the summer months

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Having what you never had: on family and nostalgia

He’s writing about storytelling, about nostalgia, about the passing of time, about families. Personal things edged with poignancy. But it’s not until I read the defining line that I realise the relevance

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Stykkishólmur to Mývatn

The road before me was slick with mud and steeply cambered on either side. I turned off the radio, suddenly too loud; tightened my grip on the steering wheel, suddenly too smooth; and licked my lips, suddenly too dry.

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Seventeen-oh-two

Seventeen-oh-two. Seventeen-oh-two-twenty-seventeen. Ones and sevens and zeros and twos. Numbers I’m familiar with: they’ve designated my birthday for 31 years. 17 February 2017. I woke up early this morning at home with Almond cat

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Mapmaking

To get here, pick up the N3, heading east from Johannesburg towards Durban. There are shortcuts that bypass the tolls, but if the traffic’s not too bad, it’s easiest just to stick to the highway. Depending on the season, the road is flanked by mielies, sunflowers

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An accident with the delay pedal

Not long after I moved into my first house – my own house, one that was neither my childhood home nor the university residence I shared with other post-adolescent girls – I found a running route I loved. I would turn

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A world away in Iceland

No one knew where I was when I fell asleep that night, alone in a green tent in a small village with a name I couldn’t pronounce. I’d spoken about going south, but the rain was torrential, visibility nil, and after 35km and some map-and-soul

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A screw loose

His voice pulls me back from the depths into which I am sinking: "Is she gone?" My eyes snap open, the edges of my vision feel blackened and blurred, and I have the sensation that the rest of my body is submerged in a dark, bottomless ocean, with only

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Learning, loving, leaving

Another warm, blue-skied autumn day swallows Johannesburg whole. I have been back in South Africa for two weeks and it has been a little over a year since I first arrived in Toronto – on a similarly warm, blue-skied day. Johannesburg’s autumn and Toronto’s spring

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Ups and downs, highs and lows

From the top, the world is two-tone: blanketed by the whiteness of snow, ice and clouds below, an inverted bowl of the sharpest blue above. At the back of my throat, a cough-inducing coating that, to my mind, has the colour, consistency and taste of

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Serendipity and viticulture

Friendships form without warning, I’ve learnt, and projecting their trajectory is an impossible task. You just never know who you’re going to meet one sunny day in Mendoza, Argentina’s greatest

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A slice of life in Lima

They call it la garúa. Today, it swallowed Peru’s largest city whole. A dense, white fog that hid the tops of even relatively low buildings, that concealed the ocean and

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