2018 was an upswing for the Shoop Family — a year that answered. After a rocky couple of years that culminated in the dissolution of our business, a stressful and botched move to New York, and the drawn-out sale of our beloved home in Chicago, Mr. Magpie and I both suffered from situational depression. We were uncharacteristically pessimistic and — while we nurtured one another at home, in our cozy little pod — we found ourselves more “elbows out,” less kind, more impatient, than we had ever been in our entire lives. I’ll never forget the morning Mr. Magpie was attempting to get our car out of the garage from our temporary lodging at a hotel during our move to NYC (note that we were paying an exorbitant monthly fee — a second rent — for said garage spot) as he hurriedly prepared for work. It was his second day at a new job — tensions were already understandably high — but we had to orchestrate an early morning transfer of all of our bags, our traumatized airedale (she didn’t eat for four days in protest of the move), and mini to a new hotel because the hotel we’d been staying in suddenly had no more room at the inn and we were without lodging at the last minute. (Do you know how hard it is to find a hotel that permits 60 lb dogs and does not cost over $1,500 a night at the last minute? I think I called 14 hotels. And this one was way down in Soho, whereas we’d previously been up close to our soon-to-be apartment on the Upper West Side. But I digress.) He’d called several times to have the car brought up. No response. No response. No response. Finally he got someone on the line, and that someone gave him an earful about needing to call earlier if he’d wanted to get his car out by 7 a.m. I can’t be too sure, but I think Mr. Magpie physically transformed into The Hulk for a split-second. My patient, even-tempered husband snapped.
“No. No. No.” he said, a foreign-sounding rage seeping into his voice. “You’re going to get my car right now. I’ll see you in 15 minutes.”
(There may have been some colorful expletives thrown in.)
The car was ready when he arrived and mercifully (shockingly) scratch-free. But I’d never seen him with emotion bubbling so close to the surface. We were living on tenterhooks.
It took until June of this year — around the time of my birthday — for our rehabilitation to be complete. He took me to Prune for the occasion and — we are not normally so lavish, even on on birthdays — directed me to order a bar snack, an entree, a side, and a dessert, plus any wine or cocktail I wanted off the menu. I remember watching him from across the table, his face arranged into a loose smile, his shoulders relaxed against the chair, his eyes occasionally traveling to nearby neighbors’ plates to inspect their orders. He looked himself. He wore his signature air of healthy, happy-go-lucky satisfaction, that curious and occasionally devious glint in his eye twinkling every now and then as he’d lean in to tell me to check out the wildly dressed couple at the door, or the oversized tattoo on the waiter, or the oysters at table 10.
We sauntered down 1st street, and then Houston, full and happy. I thought of a line from Hemingway, at his best in A Moveable Feast:
“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”
Only in New York, you never eat or drink well and cheaply, except for when you travel down to Super Taste in Chinatown on Saturday mornings for hand-pulled noodles and dumplings, as has become habit for us — but but but the sentiment stands. Life feels simpler when cocooned in love. We were warm and well and I thought to myself, as I have many times since: “This is enough. This is life at its peak, at its fullest. I am enough. We are enough.”
Mr. Magpie has a phrase for this feeling: “The Shoops are back.” When we sold the house despite a midnight hour leak in the master bathroom ceiling: “The Shoops are back.” When mini got into her pre-school of choice: “The Shoops are back.” When he crushed his first year at work, forging a new discipline, acquiring a new team, and earning the respect and love of his colleagues: “The Shoops are back.” When TheFashionMagpie really took off this year: “The Shoops are back.”
I cotton to his determination and his drive. I am drawn to the flint in his eye, the set of his jaw. I see in his resolve a straight and unbroken line to his roots: the son of an entrepreneur, from a webbed family of enterprising, hard-working Americans of German stock and more brave, conscientious members of the military than you can count.
And so when he says ‘The Shoops are back,” I find myself wrapping my arms around 2018, not quite ready to say goodbye to it. It’s been kind to me. It’s borne a kind of peace and well-being that in some ways I feel I do not deserve, but now is not the time for my Catholic guilt to get in the way of my enjoyment of a really really really really really good year.
I hope 2018 was as generous to you, but if it wasn’t: may 2019 be a year that answers for you.
And to Mr. Magpie: cheers to another year of eating and drinking and sleeping well and warm together.
+What are the odds of finding this adorable calligraphed print of that Hemingway quote? I may buy it in the card format and frame it in one of these acrylic frames for Mr. Magpie’s bedside. (We use these frames for meaningful cards — including a sweet bedtime prayer my mother-in-law scrawled on a card to mini on her Baptism that we now say nightly.)
+Another quote I love that reminds me of Mr. Magpie.
+Now is the time to stock up on ornaments for your collection. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but my top strategy for building a “grown up” holiday decor reserve is by buying a handful of festive pieces each season — preferably when they go on sale around now. I love these candy ornaments, these clip-on candle ornaments, these birds (I have quite a collection of bird ornaments by now — I just love them perched on the branches!), these skis, and this cloisonne leopard. Also: this for mini, who just wrapped up a semester of pre-ballet. Now is also a good time to buy boring but necessary things like wreath hangers — love this one!
+After yesterday’s hair-centric post, a friend texted to let me know how much she loves and lives by Ouai’s dry oil for static hair issues in the winter!
+Legit dying over these Prada mules. The perfect Christmas shoe. I have this black watch tartan Ralph Lauren dress I bought at the age of 19 that I still wear nearly every holiday season. These heels would be the perfect accoutrement.
+Your little boy needs these. (OMG.)
+Hannahs for $20/pop! Now’s a good time to stock up for next Christmas…
+THIS! For Valentine’s Day! For $20!
+A fun hair embellishment for under $15. I like the polish it lends to your everyday ponytail. Appropriate for work or evening cocktails. Love.
+I own this one-piece style in a different colorway and it is SO flattering. Might need it in the neon pink too.