Out with the Lanterns.

By: Jen Shoop

Image above John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” (1885-6).

At some point in your life, you will forge a makeshift table out of a cardboard box and eat on top of it. The contents of your life will be stowed in packing materials around you, and you will feel adrift, disoriented, out-of-sorts. The corners that once held your daughter’s bassinet, or your husband’s guitar, or your grandfather’s collection of hats will stand stony-faced. They express nothing: they betray your residency these past few years. You will imagine someone else’s husband hanging framed art there, someone else’s children scribbling on the plaster with crayon. And you will huddle a little closer to your own because you realize that home has nothing to do with the wall color the previous owners chose (ugly) or the built-ins you so desperately wanted (worth it) but the feeling of your husband’s shoulder under your cheek, and the way your own children find dining on this cardboard box delightful rather than uncomfortable.

At some point in your life, you will also improvise a bed out of a deflating air mattress, or a reclined passenger seat in a car, or a stiff bench in an airport terminal. You will again feel small and untethered, minuscule flotsam tossed by the vagaries of weather conditions and bookings-fallen-through. You will pull your sister close, or sit cross-legged on the floor in front of her, and you will play cards and tell stories and roll your eyes when she hogs the last swig of water, and you will realize how bare and simple life is, after all: that you need only her companionship, the manner in which she moves her wrists while she talks, the way she knows you are going to cry before you do. “J.J.,” she will whisper, knowingly, and it’s over: the tears will fall, but you need them to, and she is there to collect you in her arms.

In these moments, the volume of life thins out to a pin-prick-thin tone:

How could I not hear it all along? How could I ever attune myself to anything but the pure pulse of these loves that bear all things?

Emily Dickinson wrote: “I am out with the lanterns / looking for myself,” and today I sat down with my notebook and wrote three full pages about the ways in which my closest of kin are out there in the woods with me, holding up the torch for me as I crane my neck around, only little did I know —

That so much of the real meaning-making comes from that huddling together through parts unknown. Our feet stamping together against the cold, our ad-libbing through the dark.



+Another love letter to my siblings: there’s always a light on over my head for you.

+Twilight on the Potomac River.

+On moving with less stress.

Shopping Break.

+These J. Crew sandals are nearly sold out but have been so popular with you — the most-purchased item I’ve featured in the past week!

+Earlier this week, I wore this fabulous Johanna Ortiz dress with my Cesta Collective lunchpail bag to a reception celebrating the launch of the RL Center for Cancer Prevention (in partnership with Georgetown University), which is serving wards 6-8 of D.C. It is such an amazing and inspiring development, providing cancer screenings and treatments to an underresourced part of this city. It was a great evening for a great achievement, and I also enjoyed the excuse to get dressed up. You can see me in my outfit here. Look for less with this.

+How CUTE is this reversible $34 swimsuit? The patterns remind me of Agua Bendita!

+Speaking of Agua Bendita, Target still has some pieces from their limited-edition collab left — this tile print skirt would be cute as a swimsuit coverup, and this rash guard in a fab peony print is still nearly full stocked!

+Meep! These $18 cherry-print canvas sneakers for a little love! Any time I see cherries, I think Bonpoint. Such a great way to get that vibe for under $20!

+H&M has a bunch of really sweet new finds for littles: love these ribbed onesies, and these linen shorts with a bicycle print on them are in my cart for my son!

+Just noticed that my beloved spring botanical jacket also comes in dress form — so chic for a spring shower / garden party / cocktail party.

+Obsessed with this ladylike vanity chair.

+This unexpected gray linen dress turned my head.

+Swooning over these Manolos. Also come in blue!

+A perfect black pump for under $100.

+My friend Grace just launched a collection of athletic wear with Addison Bay. How great are these leggings and this sports bra in racing car green?!

+I have been shopping for a friend about to give birth to her first baby, and I always come back to the memory of one baby shower where one of my friends gifted the collection of Bonpoint “day of the week” onesies. It was so splurgey and extra and all of us were swooning. I will probably stick to registry/practical things, but am tempted…

+Love these all-weather wicker swivel chairs for a back porch.

+This white linen dress is the epitome of summer elegance.

+Inspired by Van Cleef and Arpels.

+Cute spring jammies for little ones — $20!

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