I was accused of being terrible at partying. When my first novel came out, a friend took me to dinner at Che Fico, a restaurant in San Francisco that we love, but as we approached the welcome booth, I stepped back, abruptly grudgingly. âI can’t celebrate,â I say. After all, I explained, why celebrate something that is still in progress, that I could undermine by daring to be overly optimistic, and what use would it do anyway?
My friend laughed. “Alright,” she said cheerfully – dangerously cheerfully, I thought. âWe won’t be celebrating you. Instead, we’ll be celebrating how I was an absolutely fantastic, supportive friend while you fell apart.
That I could afford, and then we had a tumultuous dinner of exquisite primi, contorni and secondi. Halfway through a shared bottle of prosecco, joy wavered at the edges of my tension. By the time we had finished our second bottle of wine, a nero d’Avola, the joy had passed from sparkle to fire.
I was there, enjoying great food and great wine with someone I loved. It is now one of my fondest memories of that eventful month: the moment when, for one night, a dear friend helped me to please myself.
I try to pay more attention to the wonder, the complexity, the fragility and the astonishment of being alive. This summer, as local hospitals were miraculously reduced to zero coronavirus patients, I hosted a little dance party in my apartment, serving pitchers of margaritas, and we celebrated after 3 a.m. when a song from Lizzo played, and she asked, “Baby, how are you feeling?” we shouted that we felt good like hell. Did we think so? That night, yes. The next morning, even my hangover was new, uplifting.
Shortly after, I saw a massage therapist for something I previously thought was excessive, a two hour deep tissue session, and cried in relief and gratitude as he struggled with the stress that had been accumulating regularly for a year and a half. I have a bathtub that, until this fall, I had used maybe three times, but lately I’ve gotten into the habit of lounging in that tub, reading poetry while I myself. soak, just because I want to. A friend, Andy, puts on an outdoor show like you weren’t at the end of the month, asking us to dress up like what we missed during the pandemic, and together we’ll march through the streets, with a DJ on. wheels rolling by our side. I plan to wear a giant disco ball on my head.
Which doesn’t quite mean that I’m now able to dance and sing while the world burns – physically, immediately, in the case of my beautiful state of California. One of the most powerful tonics I’ve known has been spending time engaging with my communities, whether it’s hosting large-scale text banking events for crucial elections, or fundraising. funds for anti-racist activities or to participate in self-help groups.
In recently released Kristen Radtke I’m looking for you, a brilliant exploration of solitude in America, she discovers that the main cure for much of our ailments is to find community, to make connections by giving our love and our time to those around us. Her stories are reminiscent of the phrase often quoted by writer and activist founder Audre Lorde: âTaking care of myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and it is an act of self-preservation. political war. “
This line is often interpreted as an endorsement of a strictly individualistic notion of self-care, one that begins and ends with one’s own lonely self. I would say, as many have done, that this sense of self is unduly limited and that it is in our own best interests to think that our self is so intimately linked to other selfs that community care is also powerful personal care. , a kind of self-care which, wonderfully, can spread and multiply and come back to us with even more abundance than what we first gave.
Here is what I have come to believe: Although I may fail, I can try to treat myself as I wish to treat those I love. If I have taken care of myself deeply and well, I have all the more resources to send a lavish care package to a sick friend or to raise funds for a local organization. Or to insist that an anxious loved one take a moment for herself and give her a festive dinner to celebrate an occasion she might never have marked, pasta and sparkling wine and all.
Main image credits: On Lauren: Karla Colletto swimsuit ($ 249); Dior sandals ($ 1,850); Tiffany & Co. cuff ($ 35,000) and rings (from $ 3,100). On Alima Fofama: Miu Miu dress; Jade Swim Bikini Bottom ($ 90); ChloÃ© Sandals ($ 795).
Photographs by Victor Demarchelier, stylized by Anne Christensen. Hairstyle by Naeemah, make-up by Alice Lane, set by Montana Pugh, produced by Cassandra Tannenbaum, and cast by Noir Casting. Models, Alima Fofana, from Women 360 Management, and Lauren Forge, from The Industry Model Management.
This story appears in the December 2021 / January 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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