Issue #88: Why You Should Take Yourself on More Dates
The weekly gift I give myself.
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📚 Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst: In her essay on being a Black woman in media, Tembe, a staff writer at New York Magazine, wrote, “I had entered into a tacit agreement with a system that made it stunningly clear that I could come in, but in doing so, had to leave some of myself at the door.” Her career was marked by passed-over promotions and endless disappointments until 2019, when she was laid off. “Instead of going to therapy,” she writes, “I started writing a novel.” Homebodies, out today, centers on her alter-ego, Mickey, who writes an incensed and passionate letter about the racism and sexism she has endured at work. It goes unnoticed until a media scandal brings it to light, once Mickey has already moved back home to Maryland. Homebodies shines a light on a side of the byline we don’t often get to see. Read on for my interview with Tembe, below!
🎧 ‘Proof of Life’ album by Joy Oladokun: Joy’s lyrics have always addressed existential themes—I included her album, ‘in defense of my own happiness,’ on the contemplative playlist I created and listened to during my first month living alone last year. But if her 2021 album was contemplative, her latest is a joyful celebration of the twists and turns life takes (including this boppy collaboration with Noah Kahan). Take, for example, the lyrics in Changes, “I hate change, but I’ve come of age / think I’m finally finding my way. […] / Even when I’m tired and low / there is gold in this.” Also listening to Jessie Ware’s new LP, ‘That! Feels Good!’
🎥 ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’ in theaters: For every humiliation, crush, and question that shook my preteen self to its core, there was a book or author that helped shepherd me through it, like Sharon Creech’s Absolutely Normal Chaos, Kate DiCamillo’s novels, and Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. This weekend, I went with a group of girlfriends to the AYTGIMM adaptation which was better than we expected, even if we hadn’t been so nostalgic for it (I learned later that it was directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, who also directed ‘The Edge of Seventeen,’ a movie I loved). Pairs well with the Judy Blume doc on Prime and this recent New York Times feature!
P.S. Curious to watch the serialized remake of “Fatal Attraction,” starring Lizzy Caplan on Paramount+, which is told largely in flashbacks, picking up 15 years after the movie ended.
This past year has been a crash course in a lot of things: divorce, dating, publishing, counseling. But the single greatest adjustment has been in learning how to spend time alone. It’s a huge shift from my 20s, when I could count on one hand the number of nights I spent by myself (crazy, but true). At first, it took concerted effort to do anything on my own. I had to relearn how to cook for myself, sleep on my own (I think of this quote from ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ all the time, “You gotta sleep in the middle of the bed. It's not healthy to have a side when no one has the other side.”), and even do errands and chores knowing I had no one to carry in groceries with or delegate laundry to.
Although I still sometimes struggle with being alone—especially when I feel like the only person ordering one coffee on a Sunday morning—I have happily embraced one single ritual: Taking myself on solo dates. The trick to a solo date is to plan an activity as thoughtfully as you would an actual date or outing with friends, except the person you’re spending time with is yourself. Over the course of the past year (and several outings that made me feel worse instead of better), I’ve learned that a truly great solo date can give me a similar sense of fulfillment and camaraderie as a great night with friends. Below I share a nearly perfect solo date I took myself on last week, and why they should always consist of three parts:
P.S. This is a slightly longer issue, so be sure to hit “Expand” to read the entire thing!
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