I loved the moments I found with women who were strangers to me in South Africa. I loved how normal it was to call other women "sisters" and mean it. It was the kind of solidarity some women go their whole lives searching for.
I met women who looked me in the eye and praised our collective beauty with sincerity. We shared a strictly feminine energy in our conversations that balanced the soft and strong. I couldn't get enough of it. There was the bead artist at the waterfront craft market. At Woodstock's Saturday market, there was the spunky woman who spoke unabashedly of political unrest, the clothing designer and her gorgeous smile, the woman my age who stopped me because she "loved my energy" and, thus, immediately invited us to her place for a gathering and wine.
There was Gertrude who joined us for dinner. We became warm friends quickly. We left the restaurant with locked arms and searched for a place to go dancing. The guys strolled behind us in Cape Town's moonlit midnight streets. We conversed about the connection that black women have and how we have to look out for each other. There was Roxy and her sweet, blue-eyed son. There was Zizi and Lauren who we'd run into at a sporting event. We talked dreams, travel, and truth. Zizi even drove us to the waterfront so that we could find dinner and charge our cell phones enough to get back to our Airbnb.
As someone who has always wrestled with finding true sisterhood and deep companionship in my relationships with women, I left South Africa feeling recharged and thankful. Each of these instances was full of genuine generosity. I know that it would be naive of me to assume that every encounter with black women across the globe could be like these were, but damn, I can only hope. Black women, no matter the cultural context, inspire me to live intentionally and love deeply. These black women taught me that it's beautiful to listen closely to people I have never met. I learned to value the stories of powerful, beautiful strangers and, by them, be coaxed into a softer sense of myself.