Mary Yoo, CA

Senior Writer

From a young age, Mary’s parents found her surrounded by piles of books. The joy, tears, and connection she felt as she lost herself in those pages inspired her to become a writer. Although life and work has taken Mary on adventures all around the world, the one constant she’s had in every season was writing and storytelling. Mary has authored articles, screenplays, and two semi-autobiographical novels. She particularly loves telling stories that highlight unique perspectives and cultural nuances. Mary currently lives in Los Angeles, California, where she enjoys a variety of hobbies including hiking, filmmaking, and playing her ukulele.

As a Story Terrace writer, Mary interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Thank you, Africa

Last November, when a dear South African friend told me she was engaged, I knew it was time to set my feet onto the African continent for the first time. Every time I’ve taken the time, money, and energy to get another stamp in my passport, something shifts inside of me.

Although my two week trip to South Africa was short, I was left with a flurry of memories: the wide landscapes and amazing animals, the intense history of social injustice, the heartfelt details of my friend’s wedding.

Travel is hectic business, so whenever I’m on the road, I make it a point to take every opportunity to be still.

About halfway into the trip, my travel partner and I hurried down to the pier to take a ferry to Robben Island. Despite being sunburnt, I opted to sit on the unsheltered top floor for a moment of solitude. As the boat left the shores of Cape Town, I reveled in the wind, the sea spray, and the bright sunlight scattering across the waves. With the vista of Table Mountain in the distance, I was reminded of another coastline off of the Hawaiian Islands…

This was lifetimes ago, when I was another person, in another life: It was our fourth anniversary—our last one, in fact. He and I figured that anniversaries were something to celebrate, so we did something “special.” We boarded a plane and drove a car around the island and took a boat to sea. As we looked at the wrinkled velvet mass of Maui, we planted sweaty kisses on each other under a Hawaiian sun. An old surfer shook his tip jar at us and my slightly tipsy husband left him a $20.

As the Cape Town winds whipped my hair around, this unexpected reflection made me pause. I pensively wondered where in the world my ex-husband might be. But as the boat continued to move, I was reminded of a dozen other receding shorelines I’ve seen since then: from the 4000 Islands in Laos, to Camiguin Island in the Philippines, to the docks of Java in Indonesia, and many more.

And then I was thankful. Thankful for the mountains I’ve hiked, the landscapes I’ve beheld, and the people I’ve embraced. A dozen years ago, when I thought my life was ending, it was actually a new beginning.

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