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Death and Vacation
How's your summer going?
Apologies, everyone, for my sluggish pace this summer! I’ve been busy being a human ping pong ball. To camp! On a trip! To the bookstore! Everywhere but sitting at my computer, writing! Etc repeat repeat repeat. I am a person who requires routines and steadiness (I’m working on it) and this summer has felt, as all summers do, like trying to balance at the center of a see-saw. Maybe you were a child with excellent balance and strong core strength. I was not.
Topics I considered writing newsletters about: Barbie (or, really, Ken), hot tips for fun upstate, books I’ve been reading, books I want to read, the bookstore being on Sex and the City (well, And Just Like That.) But instead I think I’ll write about death again. Fun! Did you miss me on death?
We are rapidly approaching the first anniversary of my father’s death—just under a month away. He slipped and broke his hip at the beginning of August, and died on September 4th. That month, my family and I went on vacation (we were away when he fell) and some other things happened—I don’t really know how to describe it in this forum, but let’s just say, betrayal and sadness from someone very close to us. And so we spent that month having to explain so much to our kids—Pops in the hospital, this other person’s sudden disappearance from their daily life. For most of the month, my dad seemed okay, like he would again recover, as he had so many times before. And then of course, he didn’t.
This month, one of my mother’s very best friends died suddenly. She was smart and beautiful and absolutely full of life, a tennis playing-eighty. Then, a few days later, a woman I went to high school with, smart and beautiful and full of life and a fucking marathon runner and only 40 years old, died suddenly. I know that death and fairness are not connected, not remotely, but sometimes it does feel like a real insult. (If you want to hear more about my friend Blakeney, listen to this excellent episode of Kara Swisher’s podcast, of which she was a producer, which is all about her, and grief in the workplace.)
My husband’s birthday is in August, and so is our older child’s, and so is my parents’ wedding anniversary, and my brother’s birthday. We went on vacation with my in-laws, and then upstate on our own for a few days. August is a thick month (walk outside right now if you live in New York City—the air is so humid that it feels like walking through a cloud) and also an empty one. It’s when people leave the city, it’s when friends are all trying to get in their last summer fun. It’s a hard month in which to celebrate, for logistical reasons and now for sadness reasons too.
And yet. This month, I went to two parties. My husband and I went to an enormous dinner party at a very famous author’s house, where we knew almost no one, and had such a good time, and I even won a bag of candy in a highly competitive game, a first for me. The other night, I went to a birthday party of a new friend, an enormously talented illustrator whose work I love and who I know mostly through the bookstore. Her party was full of women (and one man), some of whom I knew slightly, but all of whom were friendly and gregarious and I laughed so much, and came home feeling better than I had in weeks.
What is the point of this newsletter? I guess the point is that this month, this hard month, I am trying to enjoy my life as much as possible, and to keep things in perspective as much as possible, and to say yes to invitations. I am playing games with my children, even ones with extremely complicated rules that I don’t remotely understand. I am thinking about my dad, and wishing he was still here, because he was really, really fun. And he could probably tell me which of my two ideas I should work on first.
Which is what I will try to do right now, his voice in my head.
What I’ve Been Reading: Furious Hours, by Casey Cep. Incredible.
What I’ve been singing nonstop: I’m Just Ken.
Thoughts of Sex and The City: They paid us well, three of our booksellers can be seen in the background, and Cynthia Nixon made sure her friend Felicia Kornbluth’s book A Woman’s Life Is a Human Life was in the shot the entire time. A+++