Mr. Magpie

I Won’t Soon Forget.

By: Jen Shoop

I won’t soon forget the way you first kissed me behind your boxy black Jeep Cherokee, our friends only a couple of paces away, wielding red solo cups and candy-colored polo shirts and the headiness of school’s-out-for-summer frivolity.

Or the way you sometimes furtively traced the letters ILY on the palm of my hand while we were driving down to Charlottesville, safe from the gaze of your buddies in the backseat.

Or the steel set of your jaw when you picked me up from that ill-advised fraternity formal when I was in the midst of breaking up with a college boyfriend, or the red dirt on your sweats from sliding into third base while playing softball with your buddies just prior, or the trace of sweat on the brim of your UVA baseball hat — reminders, all, that I had interrupted your evening with a Hail Mary and that you hadn’t minded a bit.

Or the way the sun played on the forearm you’d so casually lean out the window of your car as we whizzed around the shade-dappled coil of Rock Creek Parkway in the parochial wild of N.W. D.C. so many afternoons that first summer we were dating.

Or the way you’d sheepishly stand behind my parents’ kitchen island when you’d trek over to their home after getting off of a long shift waiting tables at Faccia Luna in Clarendon, as you were wearing all black server’s clothes, and they embarrassed you, but you preferred to hastily come to see me rather than stop quickly at home to change.

Or the way you’d drive all the way across town at 11 P.M. for just thirty minutes of time with me, even if you’d nearly fall asleep on the drive home.

Or the way you added “mtb” in small blue letters to your AIM profile, an acronym for “meant to be,” something we told each other optimistically about our relationship with one another at its very naissance and that has proved, as a matter of fact, to be incontrovertibly true.

Or the way you introduced me to country music with a mix CD — “JMN’s First Sticks Mix,” you wrote in thick black sharpie on its front —

And I was just walking home from Magnolia Bakery the other day when Tim McGraw’s “Watch the Wind Blow By” — the second track on that CD you burned — came on through my AirPods, and I walked around with my heart in my throat for three city blocks and then replayed the song, even though I am not a repeater

Because that song is all bare feet and nowhere-to-be and too-deep-tans and your young, bright-eyed, handsome, twenty-year-old-face and let-time-stand-still and sweet nothings whispered into the cicada-song of a mid Atlantic summer night and I LOVE YOU traced into the palm of my hand and the honey and breeze of youth —

And we have come so far from that time together, from the bucolia of sticky-still summers in Charlottesville to the moving-too-fast, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it thrum of urban life with two young children —

And though I wouldn’t trade where we are for anything and especially not a revisiting of the past ten years of hard work and heartbreak and often feeling as though I am not enough —

I won’t soon forget the way you were back then.

And I carry that you with me always, but occasionally and most tenderly in my Airpods, while walking briskly down Columbus Avenue, thinking — and I don’t give a damn how saccharine it is —

And all I want to do is let it be 
And be with you and watch the wind blow by 
And all I want to see is you and me 
Go on forever like the clear blue sky

Post Scripts.

+In case your man is a good man like my man and deserves a special something: here’s a good starting point.

+More on Mr. Magpie.

+Net-A-Porter’s final reductions are here. I am eyeing these, this 80%-off Needle and Thread (ZOMG), this easy-breeze LemLem, this printed maxi shirtdress, and this chic snakeskin bag for fall.

+Also, heads up: lots of GG sneaks on sale.

+This pleated midi skirt is so chic!

+Currently in my Sephora cart: this eye cream, these “sunshine drops”, and The Multiple.

+This toile jersey bodysuit! So chic with a high-waisted white skirt.

+A great baby gift (on super sale).

+Celine-lookalikes ($11?!)

+Hatband look for less.

+Really pretty kitchen towels.

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15 thoughts on “I Won’t Soon Forget.

  1. Such a sweet post β€” as always, I love the way you capture youthful feelings & memories.

    That snakeskin bag is TDF! Love!


  2. Okay, tears. Do you have a round up of relationship/marriage advice? Your relationship with Mr. M is so tender and loving. It’s an example for all of us.

    (Also: Faccia Luna!!! Now I’m craving some pizza.)

    1. Ahh! Thank you, Veronica! I am no expert, but I am flattered by the question. I think one reason why we work really well together is that we have deep mutual respect for one another. He has always made me feel intelligent, heard, and valued — and often seeks my counsel. And of course vice versa. Nothing puts the wind in my sails, relationship-wise, like having him say how much he respects me and my opinion. I don’t know that this is advice now that I think of it, but I do think it is a necessary foundation for our success together. We’re fortunate to have worked together in a number of capacities (we serve on a few boards together, we built a business together, he helps with the business side of writing this blog, etc.) and so there have been many opportunities for this level of mutual respect to emerge, but maybe that’s something any couple could do: consciously seek out opportunities where you can work together and show one another your strengths, whether its informal (cooking together?) or professional or volunteer-related.

      Along these lines, we say “thank you” and “you’re doing a good job” and “I love you” to each other constantly — maybe once a day, honestly? And for the smallest of things. “Thanks for making me this coffee like you do every single day.” A high-five after the kids are down. Etc.

      Ugh. This isn’t really advice — more of me just rambling and trying to understand my own relationship. Let me give this more thought…!


    2. I would love to see a guest post by Mr. Magpie, either on his own (maybe a Q&A) or writing something with Jen like Veronica proposed. I think it would be so great to hear from “the man, the myth, the legend” that we already hear such great things about.

      1. So sweet — will definitely ply him on this front. He saw this and said: “Oh man, the pressure is on!”


    3. Jen, it’s great advice! Thank you for such a sweet, well thought out response to my comment.

  3. long time reader but this post moved me to comment – truly have chills. i’m in my late 20s, married, living & working in DC now (but grew up in Connecticut), and I continue to find myself knowingly internally nodding along with these experiences – of youth, love, momentary feelings, formative environments, and everything in between – that you somehow encompass in the most poetic yet succinct ways. this one really struck me; i too, am guilty of strolling along (usually down pennsylvania/constitution on my midday respites out of the office) and having a song shuffle through my airpods that stops me in my tracks, emotions hijacked by an unexpected sensory memory.

    again, have read here for awhile in the shadows – please know how incredibly you write and how much your words stick with me, long after i’ve closed the browser tab.

    1. “please know how incredibly you write and how much your words stick with me, long after i’ve closed the browser tab.”

      I couldn’t have said it better, EMM.

      This post brought on a few tears. If you ever write a book I’d be first on line to buy it.

      1. Lauren! Thank you so much. I am so flattered. I would love to write a book one day…stay tuned! In the meantime, I’ll be basking in this generous compliment for days to come. xx

    2. Hi Erica — Thank you so much for the incredibly kind note. I’m so flattered you took the time to write in and “emerge from the shadows” as it were πŸ™‚ So great to have your voice here and THANK YOU for letting me know that my writing resonates with you. I had to read this comment out loud to Landon πŸ™‚


  4. FYI: I like the Algenist Complete Eye Cream much more than the Banana Bright Eye Cream! I found the Algenist worked much more eye magic, especially for dark circles. Get samples of each and use one on each eye for a week or two and see which works best for you. Just my two cents from my experience!

  5. This is so sweet-and also reminds me of how I felt falling in love with my now husband back in college….and how different life can feel now that we are on the merry go round of life with our 3 sons! Love your blog and all your posts-keep it up!

    1. Thank you, Ashlie! Yes, “merry-go-round of life” is exactly the right expression. (Three sons — HOLY moly.) Thanks for the kind words πŸ™‚


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