This week, Mr. Magpie and I went away for two days with just my parents — no children. I “played” nine holes of golf (“played” is generous — I teed off at every hole and then usually dropped my errant drive wherever my mom’s ended up, which was usually smack dab in the center of the fairway; she is an excellent golfer), enjoyed two leisurely dinners and two leisurely breakfasts (with, like real china! and nowhere to be immediately after!), sat by the pool, went for two hikes, drank about fourteen Arnold Palmers, and spent almost the entire time in conversation with three people I adore. While at the pool one afternoon, I told my mother about a recent situation in which I’d put my foot in my mouth and then obsessed over the incident for two weeks after, occasionally waking up in the middle of the night in a panic of recollection. My company had said nothing, and possibly didn’t register my gaffe, but I was in agony. My mother said: “Oh, Jennifer. I’m sure they didn’t even notice. I know you would never mean to say anything untoward — I know you. You bend over backwards to avoid offense.” Which is to say: forgive yourself and move on. Sometimes at 39 I still need my mother’s permission — specifically my mother’s. She is reassuring but will tell you the truth if you owe an apology or need to change your ways. (I’m not beyond emails from her that read: “Did you send your thank you note yet?” and “Please respond to the invitation by this evening.” Chop chop.) She also knows me inside and out — understands my intentions; ascertains my weaknesses. And so watching her take in the details, assess its severity, and then let me off the hook felt like true absolution. Again, aren’t we lucky to be children? To let our parents guide us in times of confusion? Put things into the perspective I so often lack?
Earlier that day, I had gone on a hike with Mr. Magpie and had thought the entire time about the Mary Oliver poem “When I Am Among the Trees”:
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.
Her words are tonic, always, but I was especially remembering the line: “When I among the trees…I am so distant from the hope of myself.” Nature reminds me, too, of my own smallness — this is in fact one of her chief appeals. I like the sensation of being separated from my own self-awarenesses, from my private aspirations and agonies. None of that seems to matter when I am outdoors, or perhaps — everything appears rightsized.
And so this trip felt in different ways like a re-fitting. Trim here; let the seams out there. I feel like I’m now in a better-fitting gown.
Hoping you find a stretch of twenty minutes to get outside this week — I never regret it.
And now, a quick hits from the week…
BEST THING I ATE. Nothing exotic, but I love a hotel breakfast. Scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, a latte, fresh fruit? The best! When I was little, my father would occasionally treat himself to midweek hotel breakfasts at The Willard and a few other great D.C. hotels after dropping us at school. I always marveled over this private ritual from afar. It seemed so civilized! Perhaps because of him, I now also glamorize the hotel breakfast.
BEST THING I READ. Rereading the Oliver poem above was restorative. I shared the poem on Instagram earlier this week, and one of Mr. Magpie’s good friends messaged me to say he also loves Oliver and pointed me in the direction of her poem “How I Go Into the Woods.” I love the way books, poems, essays can connect you with other people in surprising ways. I would never have thought he was an Oliver fan and now I feel a special bond with him over it. I’m also 90% done with Emily Henry’s Book Lovers, which I know many of you consider to be her best, and am just so-so on it. (!). I have a theory on why, and will expound after I’ve finished.
BEST THING I WORE. I re-wore an Agua Bendita dress from two or three summers ago to dinner while away and it is truly one of my most cherished closet possessions. All of their dresses are exquisitely tailored, double lined, with gorgeous fabric and details. It actually nudged me towards picking up this dandelion-print dress of theirs (on sale, plus extra 20% off!) for that wedding we have at the end of summer. I have such a thing for dandelions…Also! I’ve shared these a ton, but these Larroude mules have been one of my favorite purchases this summer. I’ve reached for them at every single dressy occasion – they go with everything and the flower embellishments are just FUN. I noticed that another one of their kitten heeled mules is on sale at Nordstrom! Similarly easy to wear with just about everything.
BEST THING I WATCHED. We are late to the game, but have been watching and loving “Atlanta.” Donald Glover is incredibly talented and the episodes are inventive and thought-provoking. Mr. Magpie and I have been talking a lot about the format of the show — it has an almost sit-com-like structure, where many of the episodes can stand on their own, and the overall narrative arc isn’t as important. I mean, yes, things do happen and there are references to those unfoldings across episodes, but a lot of them are thematic rather than plot-driven. One reading we’ve been exploring is that the structure reflects the feeling of social stagnation and in-betweenness that many of its characters are experiencing. Any thoughts?
BEST FINDS THIS WEEK.
+Not new, but I was reminded this week of how clutch this mini razor is for travel. It is tiny and I love that it comes in its own little case so you don’t accidentally slice a finger searching for it. I also made a mental note to replenish my travel cosmetics/skincare situation as I had nearly no product left. I think I’m going to try a few new things on our next trip, but I think I need some new travel toiletry bottles like these to decant my “must-haves” into smaller portions.
+I showed my son about six “big kid” backpack options to choose from, and he said: “I want the one Emory has.” (Which is this tiger print one from Crate and Barrel — my heart!). I told him it would be too confusing for them to have the same backpacks, so he picked a different pattern from the same brand and it was conveniently marked down when I ordered! I was a little disappointed because I was really pushing the State Bags options. I’ve heard from multiple moms that these are great quality and they really hold up, whereas mini’s C&B is already showing serious wear after just one year. I’m wondering if perhaps the darker colored options are a better pick from C&B? Anyway, glad to have that aspect wrapped and ordered! I also ordered three different kinds of navy “uniform shorts” for my son to try this fall: these J. Crew’s (probably bending the rules a bit much since they’re supposed to be “walking length”); these Old Navys (currently $6/pair?); and these Cat & Jacks (recommended by my son’s new preschool teachers). More back to school finds here! I know it may seem early, but I’m relieved having ordered all my kids uniforms and backpacks/lunchboxes already!
+My most recent Amazon order: This tank, this iPhone case, this striped set, and these huggies! Also ordered a few new True Tap wine keys. These make great gifts to tuck in with a bottle of wine (such good colors), and they last forever. We also decided to keep one in our suitcase – often when we travel we like to buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in the hotel room at night!
+I was late to find a few great hidden gems in the Nordstrom sale…Laura Mercier’s translucent setting powder (which I’ve used for years and years and is the absolute BEST — my mom turned me onto this awhile ago and I won’t leave it); this eye makeup remover (currently using this and loving…I am a mascara junkie and I simply need to remove the eye makeup separately with a proper, true remover); and this two-pack of Clarins Double Serum, which I still use daily, even while I’ve been trying some new serums. I double down on the serums!
+Already contemplating boots for the upcoming season. I need a new pair of everyday boots, and I’ve always loved this and this from Isabel Marant, but kind of drawn to some of the tall, flats styles I shared here. And these LR Goldies are a perennial favorite, currently on sale in select colors!
What’s new with you?