There is a section of Circe (full review forthcoming but it is gooooooooooood) to which I related deeply. Circe has just discovered that she possesses magical powers, but it is not until her brother Aetees smugly explains them to her that she understands their extent. She is startled, maybe a bit chastised, by this discovery and by Aetees seemingly easy grasp of them. You can see herself refashioning her own image as she digests the information. Aha, that is who I am.
It calls to mind my father’s casual “you run cool” comment and the way it shaped my understanding of myself. And it also reminds me of a conversation with my sister many years ago, in her apartment on the Upper East Side (before she got fancy and moved to London). We were sizing up a friend of ours who had shown some questionable decision-making.
“You know, there are those kinds of people who just seem like they’d run out of their way to help someone else, and others who…well, wouldn’t,” she said. “Landon is obviously the first kind. This guy’s the other.”
I relished the second-hand compliment as quickly as I agreed with her. When I relayed the story to Mr. Magpie, he said: “Really? She said that?” And I could see him ticking through his rolodex of memories with my sister, wondering what had given her that (undoubtedly true) impression.
It is a strange thought that others might know us better than we know ourselves, that in many ways we learn who we are through their prism. How people describe you, what they ask of you, when and why they call on you for advice or support — we spend time wondering about these, reading between the lines. Is that what she thinks of me? Why would she think I would get along with so-and-so? Sometimes I think I could be a handier friend by painting a picture proactively. I was thinking the other day: wouldn’t it be kind to send a friend a note out of the blue reminding them of — thanking them, really — for their virtues, making sure they see those best bits of themselves when it is easier to focus on the problem areas? I should do this.
My Dad has told me many times that he sat down one afternoon in his mid-40s and wrote a letter to his own father. In it, he thanked him, in detail, for his wonderful traits, for his lessons, for his generosities of one kind and another. “I’m always glad I took the time to write that down,” my Dad has said, and we both nod at what is omitted from that sentence: before he passed away.
I have gotten into the habit of hand-writing thank you notes to my parents every now and then for their extravagant care and love. I hope they see in these notes the incredible people they are, how deeply good and fair and tender-hearted. But I could stand to do this more often, too.
So today, I have decided to clear my desk, open my inbox, tap in the name of a dear friend, and let them know why I love them. Care to join?
#lovelettertoafriend — it’s a thing now?
+In case you want to go the extra mile with this, writing a hand-written letter is pretty much le ultimate. Consider these chic Kate Spade cards, this stunning personalized stationery (<<the liners!!!), this splashy personalized set, or these letterpress cards.
+Testing a sample of this cleanser I received while away for the weekend. Full report soon but the reviews are compelling!
+This just arrived (I got the yellow-gold) and it is even better than expected. I actually can’t believe the pricetag on it — how is it under $150 when so many of their other sweaters are well north of $300!?
+These nubby shoes!!!! LOVE! These are the kinds of shoes I can totally legitimize. On the surface — what?! They are so specific; I’ll only be able to wear them with like two outfits. But no no my friend. These are called “game changing shoes,” meaning when you look in your closet and feel “meh,” you pull on your black skinnies and a black sweater and throw on these shoes and instantly transform yourself into a cool girl. Done.
+A $51 steal of a cocktail party dress. Love the idea of this with some simple black pumps. 60s glam.
+Love the dimensions of this nubby sweater.
+A controversial post: the weight of words.
+A heart-warming post: the same and not the same.