When you were young, what superpower did you want most of all?
A reader (hi, Beth!) sent along this stirring mini-film Burberry produced and it immediately brought to mind my youthful musings on the matter. I was always torn between wanting to fly or be invisible. I presume these aspirations to be fairly common for children, as both hint at freedom from authority, and isn’t that the crux of childhood/adolescence for many of us? Nowadays, I am close to allergic to the idea of flight in both the metaphorical and real-world senses. If anything, I have sought out terra firma these past few years, and I have a horrible fear of heights to boot. Mr. Magpie and I used to take guests up to the Willis Tower when we lived in Chicago and the first time we reached the skydeck, I simultaneously burst into tears and let out a hiccuping laugh. It was the strangest thing — it was as if my body could not figure out how to respond to the horrifying stimuli and so it flailed into multiple modes of expression at once. Suffice to say, I could not wait to retreat to ground level. As far as invisibility, a few years ago at a dinner party, Mr. Magpie and I got into a long conversation on this exact subject (our shared childhood obsession with superpowers) and the consensus was that invisibility is only useful to “bad guys,” as people on the straight-and-narrow never have anything to hide. I remember my brother-in-law saying: “I mean, really — what would you do if you were invisible for a day? What possible help could it offer unless you’re doing shady things?” And we all realized that there were no practical or convenient applications. (By the way, the conversation sprang from my daughter’s Table Topics set, which is a funny prompt for dinner time chatter, whether with children or not, though they also have adult versions.)
All of this to say — what superpower would you want now?
I think I would want to manipulate time in some way — to be able to time travel, or teleport, or simply slow down those golden moments to savor them more fully. But on second thought, I’m not so sure. The evanescence of a golden moment only adds to its allure. And while I have on occasion thought of transit time as “lost time,” I also think that driving in my car affords me important processing time, and invites me to call my loved ones and friends with more regularity than I might otherwise muster. I know that many of my friends were shocked to discover, while working from home in the face of this pandemic, that they missed their commutes. “I needed that time to transition from Work Me to Mom me,” one of my friends said. And so maybe transit time is a natural way of affording us pockets of freedom, and tampering with that mix does not promise to be therapeutic. Can I even imagine a vacation without the journey? If I were able to push a button and instantly disembark on a sandy beach, would I be erasing a critical part of what it means to “get away”? Surely part of the psychology of escape is the process of anticipating, navigating to, and then arriving at, the destination. (There was a hilarious and apt article on the closure of National Airport’s Gate 35x, “cursed portal to the rest of America,” in the Washington Post earlier this year that has forever imprinted itself on my understanding of how physical spaces transform experiences, and especially the very physical process of air travel.)
So, what then?
When I think about abilities that would be most helpful to me at this time in my life, I assemble the stodgiest line-up of candidates: patience, cheerfulness, agility in the face of changed or failed plans, gentleness. That is, they take the shape of small virtues rather than majestic faculties.
But perhaps they are superpowers all the same.
What about you? What capabilities do you consider “superpowers” nowadays?
+Adjacent to a superpower: a serious backbone.
+On the feeling of freedom as a child.
+More chic cold weather accessories here.
+I do not need another cardigan…or do I…? I love the length and pockets on this style. So sweet!
+Tuckernuck is offering up to 30% off site-wide in a spend-more, save-more Cyber Week event. A few head-turning picks…
+Shrimps continues to slay it in the statement earring department. These are just SO good.
+You can get a similar Shrimps vibe for less with these, and honestly I’ve fallen in love with the entire boutique — how amazing are these clover drop earrings and this clover necklace lariat? The shop also sells some fabulous home furnishings/holiday accessories, including these clip-on candle lights for your tree that you can control with a remote, this reclaimed wood console, and this stone guardian angel statue for a garden.
+Talbots generously sent me this vest, which felt like next-level wizardry because I literally mentioned debating between it and another puffer vest in this post, and it showed up the next day. I have been layering it over everything. Super love. It’s shockingly warm, too!
+OMG. I can’t believe Longchamp is still making this style of bag. Seeing it was a major throwback. I bought this exact bag while traveling abroad without giving any thought to the fact it had no shoulder strap and, as a young college student traveling nearly every weekend around Europe, I would often be on the hook for lugging it around airports, down narrow Italian city streets, etc. Still, I thought it was impossibly chic and well-designed, which it still is after all these years. Brilliant to be able to unzip the middle panel and earn a couple extra inches of solid packing space. Just would not recommend it for backpacking-esque travel in your college years. But GREAT for car travel! Love the colors it comes in, too.
+While on this subject, two absolute workhorses for travel: this MZ Wallace (ON SALE FOR 50% OFF — RUN! — and I recommend buying it in the medium size; it fits a TON, has a zipper, can be wedged under an airplane seat, and weighs next to nothing on its own) and this Paravel, which is kind of my favorite thing for the inevitable “extra random stuff” that you have nowhere to put, which for me is almost always an extra pair of shoes, a curling iron/my Revlon One-Step, and a bulky bag of cosmetics/skincare. I almost always end up with those items just hanging out on top of my suitcase looking for a home. The Paravel has become my favorite for that miscellany, and it holds a TON. It’s also great for a day trip with children.
+BTW, the MZ Wallace medium metro (again, 50% off!!!) is a great diaper bag. The biggest complaint is that the shoulder straps tend to slip off your shoulder if you’re carrying it for any meaningful amount of time. You can twist the straps under one another to prevent the slippage, but TBH I rarely have carried this for long stretches. I usually hook it onto my stroller/put it in the basket or, if I will be walking a lot, use my MZ Wallace backpack. Anyhow, a full review of the tote here.
+But really, my secret to diaper bags is internal organization via pouches.
+If you want *just a sip* of sequins for the holiday season, these under-$30 earrings are so fun.
+This rainbow of chopsticks is so fun. I bought Mr. Magpie something similar earlier this year, and it brings so much joy to our table!
+I added this faux mini Weber kettle grill to micro’s holiday gift pile. So cute. Mr. Magpie is a charcoal grilling enthusiast and I love that he’ll be able to emulate his dad!
+More great holiday gifts for young children here.
+Jasmine-scented shower gel in the prettiest packaging.
+This turtleneck tunic sweater has been v popular this season.