One huge massive shoutout to my wonderful friend Heather for gifting me this book on my last birthday. Heather and I met this past May and she just gets me. Her passing of this book to me on a special occasion just shows the level to which that is true.
Title: Places I Stopped on the Way Home
Author: Meg Fee
Genre: Essay collection
Pub date: May 3, 2018
Read if you like: falling in love, NYC, falling out of love, hope.
I’m not sure how to write this review in a way that does this breathtaking collection of essays justice. Fee’s collection adds up to a memoir of what it means to search for and find pieces of yourself in New York City in your 20s. From relationships to mental health to aspirations and crippling realities, Fee explores it all, organized by the various neighborhoods of this crazy place.
I felt incredibly understood and saw myself in so many pieces of Fee’s experience. I saw myself in her evaluation of the city and the people it creates. I saw myself in her tumultuous relationship with mental health and food. I saw myself in her love of being in love, not just any fairy tale idea of love, but a complex, messy, intense version (the best version). I saw myself in her deep love of her found NYC family, of the “fierce, fiery women” she discovered here. I saw myself in her belief that there is no one person for you – that “sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time.”
I saw myself in smaller moments too, moments I take for granted that Fee describes with grace in honesty. Moments like the ten words you exchange with one guy in your office that you’ll then fixate on for an entire week. Like that of first becoming aware of the presence of a potential person. Like those days when you need to bring your wine glass into the shower with you.
I picked up this book after a week that was hard on my heart – Heather, who is always checking in when I need her most, reminded of its presence on my shelf. It was exactly what I needed. It was an acknowledgment of my sadness and a remedy all in one. In an overwhelmingly serendipitous way, I started it two days before I was returning to Durham, NC for the weekend. Durham is the home of my alma mater, Duke University, where Meg Fee is currently completing her Masters in Public Policy. Meg and I were able to meet up for a sunny Saturday morning coffee. We talked about NYC, Durham, academia, politics, books, and so much more.
There are so many people in my life I’d like to gift this book to because I feel their hearts will connect with it to – in ways both similar and different than how my heart found itself in these pages. This book inspired in me a desire to do so many things: to love more and write more and look up at the city around me more. I want to share that with all of the women I care about who will feel the same way after reading it.
In discussing NYC, Fee writes of another man “already knowing what it will take me years to learn, that almost no one loves it, but everyone lies about it.” I’ve felt this for ages, but have always known that I was in that small percentage of “almost no one[s]” who deeply do love this place. In reading this book and knowing this about myself, I feel the city giving me a squeeze on the shoulder. It’s an important part of my version of home, and I’m so damn happy to be here.
Interested in Places I Stopped on the Way Home?
Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots her life in New York City – from falling in love at the Lincoln Center to escaping the roommate (and bedbugs) from hell on Thompson Street, chasing false promises on 66th street and the wrong men everywhere to finding true friendships over glasses of wine in Harlem and Greenwich Village.
Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home.