You know if you’ve read my blog for a while and you feel like you know me (which is totally true: you know me), and if you meet me you just want to start a conversation right away as if we were old friends? That’s exactly how I felt with Jessi Klein after I read her book.
So when the forces of the show buzinezz brought us together around a coffee, I knew right away: she would be a friend friend (yep, there are friends, and then there are friend friends). I didn’t even ask her point of view on the question I loved her so much. I went straight the deep life subjects, then right after coffee just started texting her my random life thoughts as if she was an old friend (cause that’s what I do: full on life questions text convos with my friends.)
All that to say: Jessi is certified awesome (by me, and a full crew of life, important buzinezz people, one of them being Amy Schumer (they worked together and Amy’s fantastic show, Inside Amy Schumer), and the others being Absolutely Every Single Person That Has Read Her Book).
And: You absolutely have to read it. It’s hilarious (and deep, and intelligent, and real).
And: We are so so so happy that she wrote the piece you’re about to read for us, because it’s so great and inspiring and… Just read it.
Jessi Klein | Author
I spent most of July doing press for my book tour. One of the questions I got asked most frequently was, “If you had any advice for your younger self, what would it be?” It’s a good question, and one that feels like it begs for some perfect caramel popcorn kernel of wisdom; but no matter how I answered, I never felt like I quite nailed it.
In my twenties and thirties, I always felt like I was in a storm. What kept me afloat was my belief that this feeling of flux, of unsettledness, would have a definite end: my forties. Isn’t that the whole purpose of being forty, I thought? Isn’t its whole appeal that you get to the part of life where all the drama and mishegas (as either of my Jewish grandmothers would have said) is dunno?
My image of being in my forties (albeit, my aspirational dream image) was of still living in New York City, in some kind of boho loft with my husband (thinking it would probably be the college boyfriend I was with until I was twenty six) (bwahahaha I was so naive) and maaaybeeee a baby, but most likely not. I thought in my forties I would have worked my way up at some kind of creative-ish office, you know, the hip-gorgeous kind with glass walls and white orchids. I imagined that after years of being skinny fat, I would finally have started doing pilates four times a week and molded my butt, abs and thighs into disciplined firmness. Essentially, my vision of my forties was that everything in my life would finally be SETTLED and I’d be done with anything NEW.
Sooooooo, yeah, that was all wrong. As I type this, I’m about to turn forty-one. I mean literally by the time you’re done with this sentence I’m gonna be forty-one. And here’s how it’s all turned out so far. (There, I’m forty-one now.)
In January of last year (the year I turned forty) my husband (very much not my college boyfriend – we met in my almost-late thirties) and I had bought an apartment. I was pregnant (hmm, okay, that wasn’t really part of my twenties plan) when we moved in, and for months I walked through plastic sheeting instead of doors as we renovated and tried to make our new place feel like home. I spiraled into a depression, because in the midst of my pregnancy hormones, I desperately wanted to nest; but it’s hard to nest when there are construction workers knocking the walls out of your bathrooms. Somehow, the apartment just never felt right. I walked around our new neighborhood, feeling totally displaced and also weird because my stomach was enormous. The kind of enormous where strangers stopped me on the street and congratulated me on having twins (I wasn’t having twins.)
By September, three months after I had a baby boy (I can’t believe I have a baby whaaaaa???!!!!) we’d put the apartment back on the market, because we had decided to move to Los Angeles. (Wait- Los Angeles? Me? Ew! No! I hate Los Angeles! I’m a New Yorker!) I didn’t know what my job would be in LA. (But I’m forty! I can’t not know what my job is!) It was all a question mark, and the only thing I disliked more than LA was question marks. I was supposed to be done with those!
But after a wrenching month of crying and flipping coins and telling ourselves we were too old to make such a big change, we moved.
So here I am in LA. We’re renting. I’m a freelancer, so almost every morning requires me going to an unfamiliar place. In New York I could anticipate every block, every storefront, for miles and miles. Now, as I drive (badly) from point A to point B, I don’t recognize anything. One day as I was driving home I was listening to Lemonade and feeling sexy and wondering if any of the drivers pulling up next to me at the stoplights were checking me out; and then I remembered I have a baby seat in the back of my car; and also I remembered my car is a hatchback Prius. I’d forgotten that I’m not just a mom; I totally look like a mom. And oh yeah: not only am I not toned the way my twenty-something self thought I’d be, but post partum, my body is practically unrecognizable to me. I’m twenty pounds heavier than I was a year and a half ago. My hips are wider, my boobs (sigh, my boobs) are bigger and my stomach muscles are droopy from childbirth. I haven’t had the time to deal with any of it because of, you know, EVERYTHING. I do have the same husband; but still, our marriage feels unfamiliar. We are figuring out who we are as a unit with this little baby in our lives. It’s hard.
At forty-one, everything is new.
But the weird thing is…I like it.
Because what all this external change has made me notice is, that internally, deep down, I am more at home with myself than I’ve ever been. There is a foundation to me, to my perspective about how to be in the world, to my belief in the importance of kindness.
The advice I’d give to younger me would be: your relationship to yourself and your loved ones is what truly makes you feel Home. Because you never stop growing. Change never stops.
And also – New doesn’t have to be stormy.
On Christmas morning, two days after we moved into our house, I handed the baby to my husband and went for a walk. No matter which direction I went in, every single thing was new. It was cold, and dead quiet, except for an unseasonably strong wind whispering through the trees. I walked up a steep hill, and when I got to the top, saw mountains. Actual purple mountains! My original inner city kid was nervous. “Wait – do we like mountains? I’m used to buildings and noise!”
Yes, kid. We love them.