Picture this: It’s a Thursday. You’re out grabbing a coffee, or stopping by the grocery, or dropping off yet another return at the UPS Store. You’re finished with your errand, on to the next, and you see her on the sidewalk: there, that gal you used to hear from all the time, the one whose “open book” philosophy meant you routinely conversed about her life, her obsessions, her work. It’s been so long.
You say her name, and she turns, recognition lighting up her face. You hug. Smile. Assess what marks the past two years have left on you both. “Do you have a minute?” you ask, “What’s been going on? Where have you been?”
She takes the deepest breath. Her shoulders heave skywards, then release with the weight of all the life that has happened between then and now. And she says:
Hello, after a very unintentional, very long hiatus.
I don’t even know where to begin, so here is a list of things that have happened in my life since January of 2020:
- We renovated our condo during the pandemic. The first day of demo started three days into 2020. When lockdown happened, our kitchen had no running water and plywood counters set atop half-assembled lower cabinets. I exclusively cooked out of an InstantPot for a month, and we washed all our dishes in a bathroom. They say to expect the unexpected in home renovations and boy, let me just say: cosigned. But it’s done now and we love our home, and it turns out the adage that “it’s all worth it in the end” is also true.
- We had a daughter. That same January, I got pregnant, and gave birth to my daughter via C-section in October of 2020, following a 38-hour labor. (That’s it. That’s the birth story.) Her name is Violet. She’s almost two and a half now, and she makes the universe make sense. Parenting has been one of the hardest, most profound experiences of my life, even more so as an adoptee. (I have more to say on this, naturally.) I don’t plan to return to early motherhood ever again. You may be sensing the link between having a now-two year old, and my extended absence.
- We lost a daughter. After a decline in her health and advancing illness, we said goodbye to Lucy, our French bulldog and de facto first daughter, on December 29, 2022. I hate writing it out because it must mean it’s true. Her absence is still like a vise on the heart; in all the places I expect her to be, her gone-ness leaves a hole that I’m not sure will ever be filled. I miss her everyday, especially during the day, as she was my primary co-worker for ten years.
Without even meaning to, we all still talk about her—Violet included—in the present tense, as if she is with us, which I suppose she is. On the day she died, Violet made a card for her at school and with the help of her teacher, wrote Lucy a special message that said “I love you every every every day.” It’s become something of a family motto, those extra everys like grips we can cling to as time marches on and we ache for the days when it was us four and not us three. Somehow, the everys convey the weight and intensity of the love and the loss and how fast it all goes.
- I started a job; I left a job. There’s much more to be said about why one would so drastically change up their employment situation after a decade of working for themselves (spoiler: more essays on identity, motherhood, and aging to come). But essentially: In early 2022, I decided to go in-house with a client I’d worked with for the preceding 4-ish years. I terminated my studio LLC and stopped taking new clients, only to decide at the end of 2022 that the role was not what I had envisioned. I stepped down in February, and went back to working for myself at the beginning of March. Yes, as in a week ago.
So now what? To be honest, I am figuring out where and how I want to spend my working hours. I dissolved one life and am starting anew, which feels daunting and scary and exhilarating and a little bit like I’m 25 again. But, just as it was in my mid-20s, no good things are built with inaction and without uncertainty, and if you’ll recall, the studio originally started as a service to teach people how to cook and help them plan menus and parties. Things can evolve. I’m flowing with it, or at least reminding myself to. And no big surprise—I have some ideas up my sleeves.
- I started cancer screenings; highly recommend! In late 2020 I found out a sibling had been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. Because we’re within ten years of each other, it meant starting my own screenings far earlier than I ever anticipated. Listen, getting mammograms and MRIs and ultrasounds isn’t exactly my definition of fun — but surprisingly, it does leave one empowered. Again, I have more to say here, especially on the topic of breast cancer screening frequency in the U.S., but for now I’ll leave it at: if you’re due for a screening, go do it. You’ll feel better. Promise.
Does that seem like a lot? I guess it is. Those are the big things; if I have to really distill down why you didn’t hear from me into a tl;dr, it would be 1) pandemic isolation, 2) careening through early parenthood in said pandemic, 3) massive shifts in my work and how I related to it, and 4) continued evolution in my identity as an adoptee. I had a million things to say but didn’t always know how to say them.
I needed a minute.
Or two years. But in my head, this blog was never gone, never fully abandoned. Behind the scenes the lights were kept on, the bills paid, the spammy comments dusted out like cobwebs. I tended. I knew I would be back. Hi.
In returning, I can tell you I have less interest in curating lists of things for you to buy, save for the few recommendations I come across here and there. Those will live as mini posts—short and sweet and digestible and there if you’re into it and ignorable if you’re not. In the main feed of the blog will live long form essays, my raison d’être. Sometimes, artwork I make (in the form of photographs, graphical collages, and what not) might show up too. I gotta keep the skills and muscle memory fresh, after all!
You’ve been so kind to stand here with me for this long, talking, listening, taking it all in. Let’s get together again soon. I’m not just saying that. We need dinner, we need drinks, we need time for the stories to be told. I’ll be in touch.