Fate announced itself as a buzzing in the pocket of my jeans.
The guy running the team-building workshop for the refugee centre where I volunteered was checking off the clichés: altruism without empathy is like a ship without a rudder; a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. That one I’d lived. But since when did helping people get so complicated? My mind was on the homework he’d set. Be prepared to discuss three events that have defined your life. I could only think of two.
The first was at college: I’d helped my roommate Camille get a termination. It had meant a road trip across the country, from St Louis to Los Angeles, estrangement from my religious mother, and the beginning of the kind of thinking that had brought me to where I was and who I was.
The second was the death of my husband, Keith, in a car accident. My search for answers and healing led me first to Camille’s home in Cluny, in eastern France, and then to a single step that turned into a twelve-hundred-mile walk along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the ancient pilgrims’ path, from Camille’s door to the west coast of Spain. I had come back stronger—strong enough to say that my career was more important than moving to England to live with Martin, the engineer I’d fallen for on the walk…