A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks trying to get some work done when I overheard a man and woman talking about Little Women…presumably about the new film adaptation and its Oscar buzz. The woman was trying to explain “what” Little Women is – as in what it’s about – and was struggling a bit. “Well, it’s about four sisters…” To be fair, even if using the most straightforward way to describe the plot, it sounds a little homespun and maybe even boring: “Little Women follows four sisters as they grow up during the Civil War in the Transcendentalist hotbed Concord, Massachusetts.” And? So after the woman trailed off with the “four sisters” bit, the man replied, “But is it for men?”
While perusing the book aisles at Target, one back-cover blurb in particular caught my attention. In case it’s hard to read below: “Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment, but the resulting collision changed her life forever. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog, working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa.” Let’s forget the first sentence (without forgetting that texting and driving is a BIG NO NO); doesn’t the rest sound kind of…charming? Cozy? Maybe it sounds a little boring and/or slow, but I think we all have days where “real life” seems chaotic and stressful – and maybe enjoying a cup of piping hot tea while curled up in a blanket after returning from our probably-the-same-everyday job seems downright appealing. As I noted on Instagram, this blurb sounds tragic…but also like something out of a J. Crew catalog circa 1995.
We all know this is not real life, but a little nudge toward a comfy and snug life is the same reason some people, in theory, want to be painters or writers or perhaps potters like Demi Moore in Ghost. (Talk about a weird interplay between cozy and tragic.) So I’ve discovered and trademarked a new genre: Tragic Yet Cozy. And by the way, I did a proof read of a manuscript by this same author about 10 years ago, and the plot involved a group of middle-aged mom friends whose daughters all participated in a (ripped-from-the-headlines) pregnancy pact. The women found solace in knitting together in a converted barn in their quaint New England town. I’m just saying: TYC.
Do adults ever genuinely overcome the ultimate paradox of teenager-hood: Wanting to belong but simultaneously wanting to stand out? If you’ve ever dined out with a bunch of women (in particular), you know what I mean: People rushing to find the best spot at the table (definitely not the end, and without a doubt as close as possible to whoever the “leader” is), then trying to wrangle the conversation their way as they luxuriate in their “uniqueness.” Does it sound like I’m bitter? No, not really. Despite the fact that I am human, and therefore have to on occasion fight the lonely experience of feeling left out, I mostly don’t let people’s need to “push to the front” color my days. Here’s why: I have met the most interesting people by letting others do their thing and hanging out with the “remnants.” It also means that ever since I was a young girl, I’ve been a pretty keen observer and can suss out a social situation and get a read on the people present pretty well. As a ‘non-shy introvert’ (you see, I’m actually a pretty great conversationalist and have a knack for including others…guess I can brag with the rest of them), I can see the inconsistencies in the way people act and the lengths that many will go to be the center of attention. I see it in local interactions, in politics, and certainly in social media. FYI: The more interesting people are often the ones hanging back because they know they can’t win at this game so don’t exert as much energy trying.