Musings + Essays

Sometimes a Little Tenderness.

By: Jen Shoop

“I’ve been down this road before
I remember every tree
Every single blade of grass
Holds a special place for me
And I remember every town
And every hotel room
Every song I ever sang
On a guitar out of tune

I remember everything
Things I can’t forget
The way you turned and smiled on me
On the night that we first met
And I remember every night
Your ocean eyes of blue
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew

I’ve been down this road before
Alone as I can be
Careful not to let my past
Go sneaking up on me
Got no future in my happiness
Though regrets are very few
Sometimes a little tenderness
Was the best that I could do

I remember everything
Things I can’t forget
Swimming pools of butterflies
That slipped right through the net
And I remember every night
Your ocean eyes of blue
How I miss you in the morning light
Like roses miss the dew.”

-John Prine

I recently heard this John Prine song performed live by Brandi Carlile, and my heart climbed into my throat without my fully understanding why. The next day, I found a video of John Prine performing the song live towards the end of his life and I sat with it in tears. It troubles me, how little I have left of my memories of my friend Elizabeth. Writing about her tempts me into believing that I am mitigating the loss, as if the preservation of the smallest details about her in language might somehow pin her permanently to me. Prine’s lyrics run along similar grooves: despite his insistence that “I remember everything,” we find ourselves lingering upon the image of roses without dew and butterflies that have “slipped right through the net.” That is, he paints the striations of grief.

In the face of these erosions and the largely futile epoxies we use to deter them, I will take to heart his reminder that “sometimes a little tenderness // is the best I can do.”

I wish I could remember everything, but today my tenderness will be enough.


+Another grappling with loss.

+On the “uses” of sorrow.

+Ladybird, Loss, and The Visitation.

+On saying the thing you need to say.

Shopping Break.

+Gifts for all kinds of occasions.

+I have resisted these sneakers for years, but suddenly I am drawn to them. The velcro bothered me — did they look a bit too childish? — but all of the sudden I like the idea of wearing them with a striped dress like this or this. (Note, however, that in the latter image, the brand has styled the dress with clogs!)

+Speaking of — if you only want to dip a toe into the trend, consider this $35 pair (a dead ringer for Rachel Comey)! Imagine paired with a fall dress like this or with the your favorite jeans and this swingy tunic sweater we’ve all bought. These ones are also now marked down to under $50 (!) and Loeffler Randall just marked this cute pair down as well.

+OO this stool would look so sweet in a bold print (like the seahaven toile) in a nursery.

+I am in the midst of testing the Biossance Vitamin C oil and will share a full review soon, but wanted to mention that the other top two recs from Magpie readers were Skinceuticals and this Obagi one, which I found on sale! (Also available in a 20% concentration, also on sale.)

+$25 seagrass storage bins.

+These vintage-inspired storage boxes are too cute! Keep remotes in them?

+Intrigued by these $13 tees after seeing them on this chic pea.

+I have two tops I bought from Forever 21 in my early 20s that I still wear every single season — one is a simple black crewneck nit and the other is a marled gray u-neck top. I am surprised they’ve made it so long, but I still love the fit of both! I recently stopped by their site and ordered this square-neck tee with similar optimism! The white or blue will be great with a skirt like this!

+Love these personalized cups!

+Oo this ceiling light!

+Cute sherpa vest.

+You know I love a striped turtleneck.

+Speaking of turtlenecks, these Dudley Stephens fleeces are still on sale, and you can get an extra 15% off with code FUN15.

+A little Halloween dress for your little love.

+Oh my goodness, I got a free sample of Diptyque’s Fleur de Peau and I am IN LOVE. I think I’ll be wearing this all fall. Super soft and feminine — sort of like cotton and fresh flowers? Amazing.

+SIMPLY adore this ruffle-edged sugar and cream set and the salad plates, too.

+Cute $15 task lamp for a little one’s desk. Imagine that pink one paired with this desk in green or pink!

+Two great everyday dress for little ones heading off to school, both on sale: this Bisby and this pocket dress. I would pair the Bisby with Cientas (<<40% off and in the greatest shade of blue!) and the pocket dress with pink Vans or colorful Vejas.

+Can you EVEN with these shoes for the holidays?! Or let that little tartan bow be your tie in with your children in a family photo!

+Oo! Love these pants.

+Emerson Fry is really killing it lately — love this ponte top (look for less with this) with jeans and those sneaks I just mentioned, this “layering jacket” (!!!), and this gingham blouse.

+These foil balloons for a little one’s birthday! Adding this to my wishlist and beginning to think about a future birthday party…

+Cute fall iPhone case.

+Adorable cutlery for your child’s lunchbox.

+Wow! This gown is a dead-ringer for Anna October!

+This Loretta Caponi is my love language.

+And super love this everyday dress for fall — would work at meetings, coffee with girlfriends, etc.

+Can you even with this sweater?! SO good.

+Cute leather-esque sneaks for a little man.

+Some amazing sale scores at The Avenue: this Lug Von Siga, this Ciao Lucia, and this SEA top.

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4 thoughts on “Sometimes a Little Tenderness.

  1. Oh, Jen… thinking of you as you remember your friend. Virtual hugs to you.

    Upvote for the Isabel Marant sneakers! They do have a similar lace-up pair (called Bryce, I think?) BUT I surprisingly prefer the velcro straps. I was hesitant due to the same reasons you stated, but it’s part of the overall look! They are also so much sleeker than Veja’s velcro strap sneakers, in my opinion — I’ve tried a few different Veja styles, and perhaps it’s my feet but they either look so clunky on me or feel incredibly uncomfortable for a sneaker (or both).

    1. Thank you!! This note was just the nudge I needed. I think I’m going to pull the trigger. I can’t stop thinking about them!


  2. I am convinced there is no “right” way to grieve. Please allow some tenderness to yourself in the remembering of your dear friend.
    On two separate notes entirely- 1) I, too, have kept going back to those Isabel Marant’s and have held off. I may have to purchase them now. 2) THANK YOU for your recent post on favorite children’s books. My son and I promptly went to our local book store to purchase several of them. I had never heard of The Napping House. What a clever, sweet book.

    1. Hi Rebecca – Thank you for the generous note. You are right. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. I appreciate you saying that more than you can imagine.

      Um, I think we’ll be IM Beth sneaker twins then – I am 99% sure I’m going to go for them this fall.

      And – so glad the book list found you at the right time! I love The Napping House so much. It’s so simple but pleasingly rhythmic, repetitious, and quiet. Love!


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