10 Years

The longer I live in Johannesburg, the more difficult it becomes to write about what I’m experiencing. Sometime in the last two and a half years, I ceased to be an anthropologist/observer and became something else. I have now lived here for longer than I did in San Francisco, my chosen location after four enforced years in Boston’s tundra. There was a slow process of yuppification after college, like being stuck in a gooey bowl of gelatinous credit card debt, car payments, and the sweet girlie-drinks that came after work and before the latest fondue dinner craze. I was waiting for the whole mess to solidify around me when I finally got out.

Read More

Being There

She was a skydiver. On Sunday, June 22nd, 2003, Elna Botha of Melville, Johannesurg, struggled to open her reserve parachute until about 100 feet above the ground. She hit the ground very hard and died on impact. Elle was one of my best friends. I was standing on the ground looking up at the sky when it happened. I saw her cut away her malfunctioning main parachute, and watched that canopy as it drifted down. When I looked back up for the standard white reserve, the sky was empty.

Read More