The other day, I was driving on 495 (a topic for another day, but it’s been…an adjustment getting back behind the wheel after four years of never driving, and I am trying not to make my newborn fear of highway driving “a thing” but YIKES! How do people drive 495 and 270 daily?! Horrifying!) and Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time” came on the radio. I was immediately transported to summer in Chicago, circa 2015, zipping down Wacker with Mr. Magpie and our best friends, the windows down, the air warm and wild around us. We’d just finished one of those architectural boat tours of the city which are, in fact, a fantastic way to see Chicago and much less cheesy than you’d think. There was alchemy afoot between the girlishness of Ariana’s song and the carefree frivolity of the day and the feel of Chicago in the summertime and the windows down and the music up. I was young(er), and happy, and unencumbered. It felt natural to sing at the top of my lungs over the roar of the wind.
Or at least that’s how I remember that time but I am certain there were heavinesses on my mind and heart at that age, or if not heavinesses, questions and everyday stressors. A lot happened to us in Chicago. Not all of it bad and none of it so unique or trying that it sets me apart from any other woman in her late 20s. There were losses and embarrassments. It was mainly a coming of age. We arrived wide-eyed newlyweds and we left somewhat burnt out, but wiser and scrappier and with the tremendous blessing of our beloved daughter. Still, it took until a magical meal a year into living in Manhattan for us to fully emerge from that headspace. Then came Hill, a true and thorough joy — but also the dawn of a sustained period of exhaustion that in turn drew us straight into COVID, and, well, the first few months of the pandemic were pretty dark. Though it bears noting that the sun still rises everyday, and that we made it, and that there are so many families that have been through hell and worse and sometimes not back during this same time period. Soy bendecida, soy bendecida, soy bendecida.
Anyhow, Ariana’s song feels emblematic of those early, halcyon days in Chicago — pre-children, pre-entrepreneurship, pre-COVID. Still laboring under the apprehension that the world was our oyster. I’m sure this algebra will change as I age, but at the moment, I see my life drawn into four segments along an x axis, and some of these segments overlap: 1) pre-Landon, 2) with Landon, 3) with children, 4) with the pain and insights that came of closing our business. What I mean by #4 is that at some point in 2017, we closed a business we had built together, which is a lot less straight-forward than it sounds. Closing that business together was painfully drawn out, sort of like removing ten thousand porcupine quills from your skin one-by-one and very slowly. There were the early rumblings that it might be something we should consider. Not-so-frank, then-very-frank conversations with our funders. The trimming back of plans, the loss of staff. The million little, impossibly excruciating details — contracts to consider, accounts to close, people to tell, associations to quit. And behind all of those logistics laid bare a gaping wound with no doctor to treat it. Oh. Those were hard days. I write that and I feel compelled to qualify: but we ended up fine! we learned so much! we landed on our feet! I wouldn’t be here without being there! we were lucky to have the space to start that business together! at least we had the companionship of each other! this is all small potatoes compared to the travails of so many others! However, I still look back and absolutely freeze. I have the sense that when I look back at this x axis, I will forever consider the end of our business a turning point in my life, a phase somehow on par with other major shifts, like puberty, and matrescence, and becoming a wife. It was identity-changing: a collision of outlandish expectations with gut-wrenching realities.
Oof. A bit heavy there, but perhaps the broader tableau explains why I have a profound affection for that Ariana song, which is really not that great (though some of her other early songs were!), and whose lyrics mean virtually nothing to me (“baby come back,” in so many words). It is breezy and catchy and the opening chimes bring to mind steel drums and island time and the uniquely spectacular and old-timey joy of summer in Chicago. Maybe I am giving the song short shrift, though — there is something in the rise of her voice in the chorus that feels perfectly synchronized with the way I felt in 2015: in hopeful ascent. Which is not to say that the past many years have been a downslope, nor that I would change anything, nor that I would like to go back to that time. (I need my babies around me.) I have come to a place where I am “perplexed and awed / by how every little thing / added up and brought / [me] somewhere wonderful — or /where [I] always wanted to be.”
Still, that song. It draws me to a good place.
What song do you secretly love? Or rather — what unexpected song holds special meaning for you?
+I mentioned recently I was going to start using hand soap dispensers in our kitchen and was leaning towards this inexpensive but elegant style. I also came across two styles that have won awards for their slick designs: this one by Danish company Zone and this one by German company Blomus.
+Y’all are loving this smocked top for fall, and I think it will be perfect with jeans but also layered underneath some of the nap dresses I’ve been seeing on preview from Hill House! I saw one that is very similar to this Emilia Wickstead style (<<only one size left here) I have been dreaming of for years now.
+Recently read that this Chanel lipstick in the “Boy” color is a fantastic nude on many skin tones. Intrigued…have definitely been in the mood to play around with cosmetics now that we are seeing more friends and have more on our social calendar.
+Oo! This is pretty for a date night this fall.
+It’s interesting — this post didn’t get that many comments, but I received so many emails and messages of solidarity around “the witching hour” from you lovely fellow mamas.
+Massive sale at Farm Rio — this dress is SO good.
+I would secretly love to play this game.
+We searched high and low for a Haws watering can a few weeks back and couldn’t find one anywhere! I just found some in stock here in the 1-gal size. FYI! You can also get the look for a little less with this under-$30 one — love the green and copper combo.
+Had to get these socks for mini. Love the retro styling!
+Running out in and out of the backyard all the time makes me realize how handy clogs will be this fall. Just slip on and go!
+Love the vibe of this herringbone blazer with distressed denim.
+Eyeing this body oil for myself. This brand is pricey but the products are so elegant!
+These cosmetic bags frequently sell out.
+Cute sherpa vest for a little man.
+Still can’t get over this cocktail dress…Thanksgiving?!