The Fashion Magpie Unbridled


My sister C. and I loved Miranda Lambert when she first came out on the country scene maybe a decade ago, and we especially adored “Airstream,” which has since become something of a sister anthem for the two of us. It comes on, and we belt it out to each other, un-prettily, at the top of our lungs.  I can think of at least half a dozen times we’ve completely annoyed friends and family by having a moment while in our own bubble, jamming out to this song, dancing like nobody’s watching, or–worse, perhaps–like only the two of us are watching.

In fairness, the song is more my sister’s credo than my own: part rebel, part homebody, she embodies the tension so central to it:

Unbridled, or tethered and tied
The safety of the fence
Or the danger of the ride
I’ll always be unsatisfied

Maybe that’s why I love the song so much: it is my sister, always walking the line between marching to the beat of her own drum and living out the deep-running solicitude and trustworthiness that courses through her veins as naturally as anything on God’s green earth.  In his toast to my sister on her wedding night, my father punctuated his moving words with:

“You can always count on C.”

You can.  She’s the midnight call, the sure thing, the bailout, the shoulder to cry on, the true blue.  You need her and she drops everything to be at your side.

What’s also true is that you can count on her to go against the grain, to get into long and borderline terrifying arguments over the aesthetics of the movie Drive, to challenge herself to try new things, to walk on the other side of the safety net, to wear what no one else is wearing, to do her own thang and not give a hot damn what you think.

I’ve been thinking a lot about her and her gypsy soul these past few days, as she made an enormous move across the pond to live in London not so long ago, and with nary a complaint.  (Meanwhile, I’ve written volumes on the topic.  Insert squishy emoji face.  Did I also mention that she’s a tough cookie?)  Our “Airstream” song came on the other day and I thought of her and it suddenly dawned on me that while I maybe at some point in my life superimposed a reflection of myself onto the lyrics, fashioning myself in my own imagination as someone with the same “wandering spirit” tendencies of my sister–that I am not that person, I don’t think.

Not even a little bit, come to think of it.

I’m a list-maker, a routine-lover, the type of person who shows up at the airport at least an hour and a half in advance of her flight.  I’m a rule follower, a Church-goer, a neat freak.  I am drawn to logistics, and I don’t like unfinished business.  As a general rule, I cannot wait to have things “settled.”  When presented with the option, I think I’d take the safety of the fence over the danger of the ride, but then —

Here we are, in the midst of a Very Messy Move to New York, embarking on a new adventure with our little Magpie family.  Funny to think that we arrived in Chicago five years ago with a sedan and open eyes and we left it ten days ago with an SUV,  a baby, a dog, and what feels like a lifetime of experience.  Eyes still open, for sure, but they’re eyes that have seen a thing, eyes that are maybe a little more wearied, more world-wise, more skeptical and cautious.

What do you think, Magpies?   Unbridled, or tethered and tied?

P.S.  The title of this post and the photo I selected from Pinterest (do we follow each other yet?) shown above made me think of my favorite “Western” book of all time (I write this as if I’ve read deeply in the genre, which I haven’t, but bear with me) is Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.  It is epic in every sense of the word — epically good writing communicating a truly epic tale against an epically awe-inspiring canvas of the West.  GOOD READING.  The movie is a C+ at best, but also something of a guilty pleasure for me.

P.P.S.  I’ve received so many sweet emails and comments asking what’s happening in our move.  I can’t share too much right now as we’re embroiled in a complicated situation BUT I am currently in D.C. with my parents and minimagpie; Tilden is “at camp” with Mr. Magpie’s parents; and Mr. Magpie is living on an air mattress in a vacant apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  I miss him something awful and it feels wrong and stressful to have our little family strewn across the East Coast in this way, but we will all be reunited on Saturday and our belongings will be delivered on Monday and we’ll get Internet on Tuesday and slowly but surely we will regain a sense of composure.

Also: items on my radar.

+I saw this in a boutique in Bethesda and…I think I must own it.

+Just ordered this in the “heather sandstone.”  I love it.  I’m going to pair it with white jeans and my Gucci mules.  Done.

+This utility jacket is amazing and on maj sale.  (More options!)

+This looks an awful lot like a Self Portrait dress I wore to a rehearsal dinner earlier this year.  The navy hue compensates for the saucy cutouts, and it’s under $120!

+Remember the borderline varsity feel of these looks?  UM THIS SWEATER NAILS EVERYTHING.  Love those shoulder buttons and the tipped edging and the $60 price tag.

+The latest addition to my reading list.  (How well are you doing with this list?)

+The only underwear I ever wear, on sale for 40% off!

One Comment

  1. I love this post. I think I am quite like you — a rule follower to the hilt — but I have also been a “wandering spirit” at certain points in my life — dropping everything to live in France for a year, giving up a job I loved to move to a different city for love, etc. I can relate to this song (she says, without having ever knowingly heard a bar of Miranda Lambert!)

    I think I need to read All the Pretty Horses. That sweater cape is THE BEST. AND I just bookmarked that dress for a winter wedding I have on the docket — love!

    P.S. The Amanda de Cadenet book looks really interesting. I just bought a remaindered copy of Sex Object by Jessica Valenti — that’s next on my list, once I finish the three books I’m currently reading! Ha!

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