By Anne SigmonAt nearly one in the morning, the night was black around me—not even a sliver of moon to hang onto. Standing on the damp, foggy grounds of my English manor house hotel, I felt adrift, like an uneasy ghost wandering the moor. I struggled to make sense of the series of calamities that, over the previous six months, had slammed the people I loved. My mother was dead. My brother-in-law’s health was fragile. A miscarriage had cost my family a much-wanted child. One good friend’s husband had died, another’s was desperately, irretrievably ill. Two friends had lost sisters, far too young, to senseless tragedies. Now my cousin—only fifty-eight years old—faced what we all knew would be her final battle with cancer.
Notes from a Woman Backpacker.When I began to travel, as a young woman of twenty back in 1981, I traveled cheap. I had no trust fund, no credit card, no aspirations to Grand Tour prestige. I’d just arrived in Israel for my junior year abroad, and Israel was the first other country I’d ever traveled in, aside from border crossings to Tijuana with my parents.
By MJ Pramik
Seeing the world anew.When I hit sixty, my eldest daughter said, ‘Sixty is the new forty.’ These words spawned in me a wanderlust the likes of which I couldn’t believe, and weeks after my birthday I challenged myself to go alone to Antarctica. After cavorting with flocks of frenzied penguins and climbing out of a dormant volcano, I returned to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego—and an email bearing the news that my ninety-one-year-old father was fading fast.
By Megan McNamer
Taking Communion in a karaoke bar.In the late Seventies, when all of Taiwan was under construction, there was a bar in the capital city of Taipei called the Club Kotobuki. It was a place to go for Japanese businessmen missing the home office. It may still be there, I don’t know. I haven’t been back.
By Anna Elkins
A progressive encounter of possibility.Paris, Night, Letters My love letter from the Sahara begins in Paris. It is March and just after dark on the Île Saint-Louis. My friend Christina and I have arrived at a literary salon in a swanky apartment with high-beamed ceilings and low lights. The evening’s theme: letters written by hundreds of women a dozen years ago to a man featured as an eligible bachelor in Marie Claire.