Grief doesn't take weekends off
But it does travel
The Sunday Scaries are a real terror. For more than two years, my weekends were largely spent with my ex-boyfriend—slowly waking, making coffee and sipping it in bed, sitting around in our underwear, reading the paper and watching TV, grocery shopping and cooking dinner. Those quiet domestic moments are the ones I miss most. So it’s easy for me to understand why, as I’ve been accepting the end of my relationship and getting used to being alone again, Sundays have been extremely hard. My grief tends to really show its ass on a day that’s supposed to be restorative. For me, it’s just lonely.
But I’m well aware that this is a transition period, and that I must build new traditions for myself—our biggest triggers are exactly what the heartbroken must be most purposeful about forming meaningful habits around. I’m sick of sad Sundays, so until I can actually feel calm about watching six hours of Happy Endings on my couch, I’m going to get the hell out of my apartment.
This Sunday, I went on an upstate kayaking trip with a bunch of strangers. It was planned by the NYC chapter of Mappy Hour (“a community of urban dwelling outdoor enthusiasts”), which has a monthly happy hour and group activities like hikes, climbing and camping. When I recently told my friends about an 8-mile hike in the Bronx I’d like to do, they mostly laughed me off the group chat. So in an attempt to commune with nature, meet people and form new synaptic pathways, I found myself on the Metro-North headed to Cold Spring at 8:45am.
The town itself was small and sleepy, with sunflowers decorating the roads and homes with porches popping out of the lush hills. Leaving New York, even if it’s only a couple hours north, is always a nice reminder that there are other, kinder ways to live. Our group of 10 was a mix of types and ages, and there wasn’t much talk of work, but plenty of talk about recent outdoor adventures. It was a hot late summer day; we paddled along the Hudson River Estuary, passing by West Point, lengthy freight trains and Storm King Mountain in the distance. Large blue herons and snowy egrets dotted the marshes while ospreys soared overhead, and I lost myself in the collective sound of chirping bugs among the cattails. We stopped by the tiny Audobon Center, then made our way to a waterfall where we ate lunch, took dips in the chilly swimming hole, and sat in the bungee swing hanging from a tall tree. After four hours on the water, we docked and chatted over beers before heading back home.
I was disappointed to find that even far from Brooklyn, bobbing on the water while the sun warmed my skin, I still hurt. But this Sunday was much, much better than the last, so my simple plan to get myself to another physical and emotional plane worked. For now, that’s enough.
#CruelSummerBookClub reading list
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
I read this memoir in about 48 hours. New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy, who’s spent her career writing about women who are “too much,” has had a fascinating life. She got a job at 22 at New York magazine, where she got her first big break pursuing a story about a night club for obese women and those who love them. She dates men, then marries a woman, and they move to Shelter Island together, until Levy cheats on her with a manipulative trans man. The marriage survives, and they decide to have a child using the sperm of a wealthy benefactor. Five months pregnant, Levy travels to Mongolia to report a story, and things quickly go south. She feels terribly ill and blacks out in her hotel room, only to wake and find she’s given birth to her son (she had a placental abruption); he moves his fingers, and she takes a picture of him with her phone. The child dies, and the last quarter of the book works through Levy’s devastating grief, and the unwinding of her marriage. Something else that absolutely must be mentioned that didn’t make it into the book: Levy eventually gets engaged to the doctor who treated and comforted her in Mongolia.
Her story is one of guilt, and forgiving yourself. In an interview, Levy said: “Feminism never said you can have it all. That's the thinking of a toddler, not the thinking of a feminist. You can have a lot of things, but no one gets everything.”
I’m also reading
I deal with grief through extreme makeup to make people look at me by Muna Mire in Vice
Lemons in winter by Mika Taylor in Granta
Jenna Wortham on a summer of grief
Guys are reporting women on Tinder for the crime of not being into them by Lauren Vinopal in Mel
I’m listening to:
Aminatou Sow on cancer and menopause in your 30s on Unstyled
Terrible, thanks for asking on Call Your Girlfriend
Support I got that you might need to hear
Questionable self-care advice
This cheered me up
Last Saturday, I sat on the couch at my friend Louie’s place piled under blankets with 10 friends and watched Disney’s Hercules. (Louie designed all of the newsletters’ fabulous logos!) We ate a delicious home-cooked meal, drank wine and sang along loudly. I highly recommend a monthly practice of gathering and singing.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see artist Nicki Smeltzer take on the Fates this week. I adore her Twitter feed, full of collage art and paintings about life’s smaller moments of wonder. She creates dogs, Russian Doll, and her kids’ imaginations with such delight.
Anthem of the week
I spoke to author Jayson Greene about his devastating memoir, Once More We Saw Stars. Greene’s two-year-old, Greta, was sitting on a bench on the Upper West Side when a piece of building fell from the sky, killing her. Greene and his wife, Stacy, then had to learn to live alongside some of the deepest grief imaginable. (You can read more about the book and what it means to me here.) Greene’s writing about the years that follow Greta’s death makes you want to believe in miracles. I’ll share our conversation about the healing magic of time, the incredible lengths we will go to keep our dead loved ones close to us, and seeking the light upon this earth.
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