Issue #106: A Conversation with My Mom About Our Relationship and My Divorce
How we healed after years of fighting.
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🎥 ‘Bottoms’ in Theaters: It’s a classic high school tale—two unpopular seniors create a plan to get laid before going to college, preferably by the hot cheerleaders. In this rendition, Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott (who are irresistable and, side note, met in college at NYU) start an all-women fight club with an inept but lovable faculty advisor as a means to their end. Without saying too much, the final scene on the football field is over-the-top and hilarious. Sweet, quirky, and thoroughly enjoyable.
📚 Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue: Like Donoghue’s previous novels, very little happens in the first hundred pages of Learned By Heart. Eliza, who follows all the rules at her boarding school in 1805, gets a new roommate, Lister, who bucks the norm. But as with The Wonder and Room, Donoghue is expertly setting the scene—be it 19th century Ireland or the shack behind a kidnapper’s house—for an unforgettable ending that makes the long setup worth every page. Based on the real-life love story between Anne Lister (the protagonist of the show “Gentleman Jack”) and Eliza Raine, this comes pretty close to a perfect fall novel, with grade school nostalgia set in the English countryside, that reads, at times, like poetry: “Since the diamond, since the kiss, what’s between them is a stone rolling down a hill.” Read it if you liked ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ and Lauren Groff’s Matrix.
📺 “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” Season 2: I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I had a long list of shows to vet this week, but I needed some good, clean, easy summer watching and “TSITP” delivered (even though Belly’s voiceovers were sometimes questionable?). The series equivalent of a Y.A. novel (which I just learned largely originate in Provo), this season delves into serious topics including mental health and grief, but in a way that manages to still capture the innocence and fun of telling your mom you’re at a slumber party, then going on a wild adventure instead. Side note: I put on ‘Red, White, and Royal Blue’ while packing last night, and it was better than I expected it to be—sexy and funny, with the football player from ‘Bottoms.’
Is it a coincidence that all of my picks this week feature high school, considering today’s topic?
A couple of weeks ago, when I was back home in Reno, I asked my mom, Tracy Fairhurst, if she would be open to sitting down to a recorded conversation. It was, on the surface, an interview for Morning Person, but it meant far more to both of us, given our history.
For years, my mom and I had a close, but tumultuous, relationship. When I was in high school, we fought endlessly and in my 20s, we went an entire year without talking. Even this year, we stopped speaking for several months. That most recent argument, which began in April and lasted until June, felt like a tipping point: We could go on this way forever, or we could change. Thankfully, we chose the latter and began to have openhearted conversations and be more aware of each others’ boundaries and sensitivities. This last trip to Reno is the first I’ve ever taken that hasn’t ended in a huge blowout fight, which felt momentous. (As one of my professors said last semester, “Of course your family pushes your buttons—they installed the buttons.”) On my last evening in Reno, we sat down on the back patio, dogs nestled between us, to chat about our dynamic, her relationship with her mom (my namesake), and her reaction to my separation from my husband last year.
Mother-daughter relationships are some of the most complicated. I hope our honest conversation below provides you with some clarity toward your own or, at the very least, normalizes the fact that not every pair is Lorelai and Rory.