*Image via The Studio Melrose.
A Magpie reader wrote me a lovely note earlier this week letting me know that she and her best friend often talk about my musing on “the years that ask and the years that answer.” (Which one is 2023 shaping up to be for you?) I paused for a minute and realized that ever since we moved from New York City to Bethesda, MD, I’ve been living amidst a string of years that answer, and answer, and answer. Life feels solid and comfortable in a way it never did in New York and Chicago before it. I think this is partly the ages of our children, partly the sensation of buying a home vs renting (honestly, more precisely, the sensation of not having to move in the imminent future), partly the fact that we are through our baby years and no longer have that “will we have another?” question asterisking our “dream talks,” partly our stability in our respective careers, and partly the fact that we are back in our hometown after a wild adventure flying the coop. We had to ask a lot of questions, and then handle a lot of fallout from their answers, to land here. My 20s and 30s felt like one long call; I am finally listening to the response. Anyhow, today, I want to say that if you feel you are wandering, and you are coming up on a decade of years that have relentlessly asked, there will be an answering year. You will look back and see the once-immaterial breadcrumb trail that brought you to a place of rest, and you will also see that the experience was not only worth it but wakening.
Below, I’m republishing some thoughts on the long trail for my fellow wool gatherers from an essay I wrote a year and a half ago for a gal who once interned for me.
It is OK to take the long road,
to earn the title “wool-gatherer,”
to be the handwritten cursive subscript under the 12-point Times New Roman font,
to move beneath, rather than with or against, the grain,
with meanderings so under-the-radar that they are dismissed as insignificant.
It is OK to take the squiggly path,
that draws you from arranging name tags on the reception table at the Phillips Collection
to stammering through academic papers in ancient towns in Italy
to gliding through rehearsed presentations to large audiences
to starting and shuttering a business
to writing for a living —
just an example.
It is OK to feel that you have been searching for something you can’t quite put your arms around,
each phase a phantom hug —
but know that the footprints that brought you here
There is meaning-making in the tracks.
+You are enough.
+More on that ill-fated academic paper in an ancient town in Italy.
+The moment I realized how little my peers thought of my choice to pursue English.
+Do you see a difference between the way those of us who studied the humanities and those of us who studied STEM approach the world?
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+Mesh and tulle have been such a trend this season (mesh shoes, mesh-detailed dresses, mesh tops — Doen’s holiday collection had so much tulle, too!), and I just ordered this inexpensive mesh turtleneck ($22!) to pair with holiday looks. Thinking of wearing it with this tartan skirt and some great heels to a festive holiday tea.
+If you are looking for a dressy top for a formal skirt and don’t love the mesh vibe, this one is it. Could even be styled for black tie wear.
+An adorable way to deliver treats to neighbors/friends this holiday season. I bought something similar to hand out pecan bars last year. Note the dimensions/size — these are petite!
+Just placed a big order at Gap with some random buys, taking advantage of some seriously good Black Friday discounts there — my daughter loves “fuzzy socks” so I got her these as an Advent calendar surprise (and these for my boy, who will obviously want to follow (sock) suit! he wants everything she has!), some holiday shoes for my girl (she wanted this pair from La Coqueta, which felt spendy even with discount, so glad I found these!), skating gloves and hat for my girl, and these $10 Santa jammies for my son.
+These Nikes are 25% off. Love the styling.
+Love these vintage inspired holiday bells for a garland/mantel!
+My son already has too many blankets, but this one with the truck motif turned my head…
+Our favorite shampoo is 20% off with code GIVING20. A reader just wrote last week: “I purchased the Roz hair care set when you first posted that someone recommended it to you. Has been life changing for me! Can’t recommend enough.” I totally agree with her! My fav shampoo — super similar to Oribe, but less expensive (especially with the promo) and with a better lather.
+More fun holiday shoes!
+Chic shearling coat for a little love.