I’m writing this well in advance of its publication because, well, I moved last Friday. So funny to write those words now, here, sitting in this well-loved home of mine in Chicago, with Madeleine Peyroux on our Sonos speaker and this candle burning at my side and the sounds of our sweet Colombian nanny fussing over minimagpie upstairs in the nursery drifting down the stairs.
So much can change in a day.
I’m reminded of the day before I was scheduled to go in for minimagpie’s birth via planned c-section: I had no idea what to do with myself. How do you behave on the eve of a day that will forever change your life? It was like the emotional equivalent of Ricky Bobby in Talledega Nights, when he’s first on camera: “I don’t know what to do with my hands,” he states, as his palms float awkwardly upward. Mr. Magpie and I busied ourselves with cleaning the house and picking up fixings for dinner and running “last minute” errands as though we wouldn’t have legs or a car after minimagpie arrived, every now and then turning to each other with wide or tearful or loving eyes. “This time tomorrow…” we’d say, mystified. My sister FaceTimed me while I was vacuuming our stairs. I paused and sat down in the middle of them, out of breath anyway (any physical activity is to be applauded at nine months pregnant), brushing my hair out of my eyes. She started in with — “I just wanted to call to say –” and I burst into tears. “It’s all going to be fine, J,” she said, comfortingly, her eyes emoting the deepest reaches of love and concern.
I would call her about twelve hours later, at around 4 a.m., when my water broke and we rushed off to the hospital a few hours earlier than anticipated, my mom somehow just as bright and bushy-tailed as she would have been had she woken at 8, and our voices a feverish pitch of excitement, and everything foreign in the dark of the early morning. The streets I’d traveled thousands of time looked unrecognizable in the deserted dead of the night, and even the interior of our car felt unfamiliar and dark. Everything lit differently in the glow of our impending life-changing event.
I feel a bit like that now, today, on the eve of leaving Chicago — leaving it likely for good, but certainly for a long while. A bit weird, a bit wrong going through the quiet and unfussy quotidian motions of a day in our lives: making coffee in our kitchen, chatting about the weather, bickering over whether or not minimagpie needs the sweater, disciplining Tilly for the fifth or twenty-fifth time today. Shouldn’t we be marking things with ceremony? I can’t help but make broad and unhelpful statements of finality: “this is our last Mass at this little Church that’s meant so much to me over the last five years,” “this is our second to last long family walk up and down these streets of West Town that have come to be our backyard for the past three years,” “this is probably the last trip I’ll make to our neighborhood grocery store / coffee shop / watering hole.” Why this impulse? Why the desire to mark things, to square them off, to freeze-frame them and label them as though insects trapped in amber?
I’m too nostalgic. I try — with non-trivial exertion — to live according to my Dad’s credo: keep moving forward. But these lasts are hard for me, and for many of the same reasons minimagpie’s firsts and lasts have been emotionally trying–namely, because I have cherished these details of our life here together. The famed architect Mies van der Rohe (incidentally, designer of many of the beautiful buildings along Chicago’s river) is attributed with the phrase: “God is in the details.” I much prefer the sentiment here to the more commonly used phrase “the devil is in the details” because no where do I feel God’s presence more keenly than in observing the minutaie of life: the sound of rain on the skylight in our Chicago home; the still coolness of the basement; the comforting undulations of the branches of the enormous maple tree out the front windows of our red brick home–those branches I have watched unblinkingly, often absent-mindedly, while nursing minimagpie countless evenings in the rocking chair of her beloved nursery.
I don’t have any sense for the soon-to-be constants of our life in New York, and I already ache with longing for those we’ve enjoyed here. I know there are many exciting firsts are around the corner, but I’m letting go of one bar and swinging wildly through the air, flailing through the unknown.
While we’re in this alien middleground, this liminal neither-here-nor-there: 10 picks that may push you out of your fashion comfort zone.
Pick No. 1: Statement Cardigan
Just try it ($298). I love everything about it, and even the way it’s styled here — with white jeans, appropriate for fall.
Pick No. 2: The Statement Slide
OK, I promise I won’t feature any more pearl-adorned shoes for the rest of the season because I kinda went nuts, but one pair of shoes I didn’t feature yet were Chanel’s pearl slides, shown at the very top of this post, which have long since sold out. I got you covered, though: for $69, you can have these very similar lookalikes, or, for even less, these $38 steals.
Pick No. 3: The Varsity-Esque Cardigan
Speaking of, there’s something very Chanel-esque about this on-trend pearl-and-grosgrain adorned cardi ($69). Not sure if I’d wear it over a bare chest, but…certainly something I can envision working into my wardrobe these days, especially given my penchant for all things grosgrain.
Pick No. 4: The Bow-Back Sweater
I first saw this bow sweater on the adorable Liz of Sequins and Stripes awhile ago, and though I wouldn’t characterize it as “out there” fashion-wise, it wasn’t something I would have gravitated towards on my own. But I keep dreaming about it…and you can get the look for a little less with this navy variation (on sale for $158) or this ivory one ($198).
Pick No. 5: The Pony Hair Block Slide
Pick No. 6: The Cropped Fur Jacket
If you’re in the market for a great faux-fur jacket for fall, look no further than this multi-colored style ($228), equally as chic with your basic jeans-and-a-tee as it is thrown over an evening gown. A propos of nothing else: how stunning is this model’s makeup?! I want her dewy skin. I’d venture to bet she’s wearing this highlighter.
Pick No. 7: The Red Blouse
There’s something futuristic and intense about the shape of this red blouse ($80).
Pick No. 8: The Loop-Fringed Jacket
Pure fun and frivolity ($148). Great over an otherwise straight-forward look — or monochromatic, with gray jeans and a gray tee.
Pick No. 9: The Bow-Shouldered Jumpsuit
OK, for some of you, this may not seem particularly adventurous, but I’ve been hesitant when it comes to the jumpsuit. However, this one was too good to be true. I bought it in a cheery lipstick red (now sold out), but the ivory would be perfect for a bride, and the navy is a perfect color whenever you’re trying out something that seems a little daunting. It’s like, “Oh, this shape scares you? Don’t worry, navy’s here to comfort you and calm things down a bit.” (I think you could also pull off the ivory color in the dead of winter, though — just throw a white fur over your shoulders and finish with gleaming green accessories, like the Alumnae slides above and those Vanessa Mooney drops, or something like these velvet, bejeweled beauties.
Pick No. 10: The Flounced Dress
This is the kind of bold shape that one might shy away from at first glance — but I actually think it’s imminently wearable and flattering — and also, on sale and from a very hip line ($225). In a similar vein: this Target score.
P.S. 10 products I can’t live without. To which I would have to add, I just realized the other day, these small scissors I keep in my cosmetic drawer organizer. Very boring but oh-so-handy and I swear I use them once a day, whether to cut tags off a new article of clothing, trim my eyebrows (yes, I need to trim them), cut into the annoying plastic seal on a vitamin bottle, or take care of a split end. I use them constantly. It’s a glamorous life I lead, people. Scissors and stuff.