It’s Wednesday morning and I’m humming with happiness.
It’s probable that I should be exhausted and stressed out, but I’m not. Not at all.
I feel full, and bursting with excitement about my life and about the days to come.
My trip to New York was absolutely dazzling.
On Sunday I stood in my friend Aidan’s living room and had the task of speaking to what was definitely the most impressive group of women I’ve ever stood before. And all I could think about was how I wouldn’t be standing there without every last one of them.
I began by talking about my mother, my beautiful, glamorous force of a mother. And how when she disappeared from my life when I was eighteen it was as though the entire world had gone dark.
But how back then, I wasn’t yet aware of the incredible gift she’d left for me. The gift of knowing how to connect with others, of how to fill my life up with all the very best people possible. This wasn’t a lesson she ever sat down and taught me outright, rather it was something she showed me just by the way she lived, by the way she loved.
And over the last decade and a half I’ve followed in her footsteps, not replacing her (impossible), but filling my world with women like her. And on Sunday, standing in Aidan’s gorgeous living room, I looked around with tears in my eyes, unable to believe this gift she had left behind for me.
(Aidan wrote me the most incredible love letter about the whole experience.)
The truth is that the last year has been a very difficult one. Having a second baby, giving birth and nursing a newborn into this world, trying to work and write and travel in the meantime…it’s all been exhausting and a little defeating. But being in New York, and being around all of these remarkable women was a wake-up call, a reminder of how flawed and vulnerable and beautiful and fucking strong we all are.
And how we’re much more so when we’re together.
The whole reason I was in NYC was because my book was nominated for a Books for a Better Life award in the inspirational memoir category, and when I told Aidan that I was coming she invited us to stay with her and insisted on hosting one of her inspiring Happier Hour salons, hence the Sunday brunch.
Aidan and I met several years ago, through the blogging world and book world, but only met in person for the first time last year when she graciously came out more than once to support my book. This past weekend we took our friendship to an entirely new level, entwining our families and our girls.
Vera is going to be talking about this trip for the rest of her life because of how much fun she had with Aidan’s three little girls.
This was actually Veronica’s third trip to New York. The first time we took her was when she was just 6 weeks old. The second time was last year on my book tour. The truth is that NYC is a hard city to visit with a kid, let alone two, but this last visit couldn’t have been more fun. This was the first time that Vera was really able to take in the city, and she just ate it up.
All weekend she kept saying, “Mama, I love New York City. I want to live here when I grow up and be a writer.”
You got it, kid. Do it. I’ll help you.
As usual, we ran up and down and all across the city, meeting up with a hundred different friends.
Sunday was the brunch at Aidan’s.
And Monday was the Books for a Better Life awards.
I didn’t have any expectations for this event really. I was so honored just have had my book nominated. Every single book up for an award was truly exceptional, the kind of books dredged up from deep places within people. The kind of books that offer service unto others, and are so often born out of challenging personal experiences.
Kelle Hampton’s Bloom was nominated, and she and I sipped spiked lemonade together at the cocktail reception and pinched each other, marveling over the fact that we were there at all. Both of our books were birthed out of the hardest things we’ve ever been through, and when we wrote them it was because we had to.
I think I can speak for Kelle when I say that I don’t think either of us ever envisioned all that would come with putting our books out there in the world. We just wrote because we didn’t know what else to do. So to find ourselves in dresses, sipping cocktails and surrounded by people who we love and who love us, was just the most unexpected bonus to it all.
(This selfie took three tries because I couldn’t stop giggling.)
(With my beloved publicist Liz Keenan and my amazing editor Denise Roy.)
(With Edward Ash-Milby, who is the reason my book is on a shelf at every Barnes & Noble.)
(With my handsome date.)
Kelle and I didn’t win, but it was more than enough to just see our books up there. (And I think we’re both winners in a thousand ways anyway.)
(Celebrating afterwards with my agent Wendy (who has become a second mom to me), Liz & Denise.)
(And with Kelle and the enchanting Meg Thompson.)
It was a whirlwind trip, to say the least.
On our hellish trip home yesterday I just didn’t care that what was supposed to have been a seven-hour traveling day turned into a fourteen hour one. I didn’t care because it was utterly worth it. I would sit on a grounded airplane with two kids for three hours anytime for this kind of experience.
And all I could think, watching my girls yesterday, was that right this very minute I’m imparting to them the very same gift my mother gave me. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
I also couldn’t do it without all of the incredible women in my life.
Thank you Aidan, Kelle, Jessica, Francesca, Channah, Valentina, Surbhi, Christina, Kelly, Meghan, Antonia, Caitlin, Meg, Denise, Liz, Wendy, Mary Elizabeth, Tre, Jami, Becky, Hilary, Kristine, Lindsay, Valerie, and Bryce.