Couldn’t put it down. Just weird enough that I never quite knew where it was going. Exceptionally written.

Val encounters life and persons as they come to her, this total acceptance of the fact that you’re here, that you belong to the space you’re taking up, that it’s all and only yours. A rare thing, IMHO. If you think about it, most persons, including many of those who say they love you, can’t help but question your particular coordinates in whatever you’re doing or thinking or hoping for, then want to realign you to function more smoothly in their eyes and thereby calm their fretful souls.

Val and I assumed he was parroting some philosophizing chef in a video he’d watched, but the dappled glints in his eyes made you wonder if another dimension had opened to him, that he was realizing—as a lot of grown-ups never do—that what was fundamentally good for you was staying busy, making something new every day, and having kind social contact.

Cover image for My Year Abroad