Musings + Essays

All the Wonders.

By: Jen Shoop
You are laden with those riches; they are forever ready for redemption. In the words of Carlile, All the wonders you have seen you will see a second time.

*Image above from our stay at the Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian, Spain. Mr. Magpie and I visited there pre-children, pre-start-up-days, pre-New-York, pre-pandemic, pre-pre-pre. It is for me a place that represents the antecedent to a lot of my current life.

I received a number of emotionally-rich messages in response to my post on Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” last week. I was particularly arrested by three:

“Had such a visceral reaction to this post. I love this song and one of my most cherished memories with my mom was seeing Fleetwood Mac in concert. She loved this song. Felt like she was talking to me through this post today.”

“I had a therapist tell me something similar once — ‘you never lose your baby,’ as in, because they grow up. She opened my eyes to see that they are always there inside, all the different ages of them (and of us), and what a gift that we know all of their ages along the way.”

“Reading this today as I am visiting the place I lived for 15 years (San Francisco, coincidentally). We moved away a year ago, while things were still largely very different because of the pandemic and the city was pretty empty. Now being back with beautiful weather and a more normal level of activity here, I’m really struggling with feeling sad and homesick! Like I can’t shake it and even during moments of having fun with old friends I am inwardly feeling grief over losing my old life. I’m trying to associate nostalgia with positive feelings like Stevie, but really struggling!”

In short: things lost, things redeemed. All of these messages circle, in different ways, around grief, which is duly appropriate because it turns out that “Gypsy” is itself a lamentation in the truest sense — Nicks wrote it in part to honor her childhood friend Robin Snyder Anderson, who passed away in 1982. Nicks said: “I tacked on a line for my friend Robin, my best friend, who died of leukemia: ‘I still see your bright eyes.'” Elsewhere, Nicks commented that “Gypsy” — and especially that line — was always difficult for her to perform because of her private anguish over this loss.

Even without that context, the emotionally potent lyrics stir and reassure us as we stare down losses of any variety. What Nicks offers us is the secours that we have everything we need inside. We have the memories, the experiences, all of our children’s ages, the bright eyes. I feel transformed by this vision. I have spent so many years thinking about Elizabeth as a void, an absence. Sometimes it feels as though my memories of her are on the brink of dissolution, as though leaves against a grate. How incredible to imagine her instead as a fullness I carry with me? Something intact and portable.

I was thinking about this in relation to a Brandy Carlile song that I absolutely love called “The Mother.” I hadn’t paid much attention to it (though I listen to Carlile a lot) until I heard her perform it live at Wolf Trap last summer, and I felt like I might cry. “The Mother” is a gorgeous portrait of matrescence and specifically the way the world keeps marching on while we are undergoing tremendous metamorphoses — how everything about us and our lives as new mothers changes, as though colored in differently overnight, while the rest of the world persists, unaware. There is so much to love about the song but what struck me on a recent listen, while reflecting on some of your messages about ‘Gypsy,’ was this passage:

Outside of my windows are the mountains and the snow
I hold you while you’re sleeping and I wish that I could go
All my rowdy friends around accomplishing their dreams
But I am the mother of Evangeline

They’ve still got their morning paper and their coffee and their time
They still enjoy their evenings with the skeptics and their wine
Oh but all the wonders I have seen I will see a second time
From inside of the ages through your eyes

Carlile is in some ways mourning her former life. She watches as friends endure in their ambitions and enjoy their rowdy nights out and lazy mornings in, while she finds herself tethered to her daughter. But Carlile knows that she will recoup those “losses” by seeing the world “a second time,” through her daughter’s eyes. This, too, feels like a piece of the puzzle at which Nicks is playing. To my friends missing San Francisco, their mothers, the baby years: you carry them all with you. You are laden with those riches; they are forever ready for redemption. In the words of Carlile,

All the wonders you have seen you will see a second time.


+More on the metamorphosis of new motherhood.

+Confidence is quiet.

+One of my favorite essays ever by Patti Smith. I re-read this at least once a year.

Shopping Break.

+I wore these Madewell boots on Instastories last week and I’ve never received so many questions about something I’ve worn before! They re-released them in a lace-up version this year, and you can get the look for less with these. I like that they have the lug sole but aren’t quite as dramatic/chunky as some of the other styles out there on the market right now. Like Doc Marten’s girlish little sister.

+Everyone needs a puffer vest like this. I own one in an almost identical color. Love to layer over green sweaters for tone-on-tone action.

+Are we shopping for our children’s holiday gifts yet? This kitchen set was a big hit. We bought it for our children last year. I liked the “footprint” — not too big/bulky, and aesthetically pleasing.

+Are you scheming something chic for your Thanksgiving table? I am contemplating this inexpensive tan gingham tablecloth (I already own) with these fun scalloped napkins and these spiral candlesticks, and then introducing some color with a garland (<<I ordered this exact one last year) down the center and some burgundy posies.

+Burberry-inspired car coat for a little lady for under $40.

+A great wardrobe staple. The little gray stripe at the cuff adds a little interest. Pair with a dramatic skirt for next level fashion moment.

+OK, these trousers are incredible.

+Dreamy velvet heels for a formal affair this winter.

+This fringed shirt jacket situation is on its way to me now. OMG. Ralph vibes! Want to pair with jeans and suede boots, or maybe chocolate brown pants…

+How amazing are these counter stools? The design feels so high-end, architectural, intentional! Love.

+Doen vibes for under $30.

+Looking ahead to holiday, how great are these scalloped plaid napkins and placemats? At a more reasonable pricepoint than I’ve seen elsewhere, too!

+Do I need more plaid?! I am dying over this black watch dress!

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4 thoughts on “All the Wonders.

  1. This has the potential to be such a life changing mindset shift. I really struggle with the passage of time as it relates to my kids. Have I done enough? Did I appreciate their baby-ness? I am already dreading the teenager stage and I am a decade away from that haha! Thinking about carrying all their phases with me really helps me think of their growing up as a gift, rather than something that is being taken from me.

    1. Yes! Exactly. I had this same conversation with myself just yesterday, after writing this post. I was doing a deep clean out of my son’s dresser and closet and realizing how we are totally out of the baby and even the toddler years — we no longer need diapers, diaper ointment, swaddles, etc. I have had such a difficult time parting ways with that stuff, as I feel like it’s permanently closing the door on a phase of my life that has been so meaningful and beautiful (and, well, all the things…challenging, etc.). I had to stand there and remind myself “this is not goodbye; I still have all of that time, all of those experiences, inside me.”


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