In high school English, when asked about her future, Elizabeth Scarboro wrote that she planned to be an international journalist, moving between cities and boyfriends. Across the room, Stephen, irreverent and clear-eyed, wrote that since he had cystic fibrosis, he planned to live until he was thirty-five, unless he got hit by a bus first. When Elizabeth and Stephen fell in love, they figured they’d last a year at most, until they both went off to college. But four years later, they still made each other happy. Elizabeth contemplated all kinds of post-college plans, but in the end, Stephen’s illness called her bluff. The Alaskan wilderness would be there. In comparison to Stephen, most things would be there. If she wanted to be with him, she had to hurry up.
This begins their journey through territory as foreign as any of the cities that Elizabeth imagined back in high school. She and Stephen navigate the twists and turns of their twenties alongside the twists and turns of life-threatening illness, bouncing between the hospital and the outside world. The result is a life in which sneaking out on the hospital roof is normal, death is joked about over breakfast, and a midnight phone call means the possibility of new lungs.
A love story set on the frontier of modern medicine, My Foreign Cities depicts an extraordinary world, and Scarboro ferries us through it with startling humor and grace.