to market, to market, it was our best gig

In ALL, DATING & MATING by Stephanie Klein41 Comments

Some couples take vacations. They say, remember that time when we were on vacation? When we showered, and you put lotion all over me, and we made love all night, and three times a day. And you held me in the pool, and I told you I loved being near you, your smell and hands and the way you talked to the people around us at the bar. I was so proud to be with you.

We’re not that couple. Those aren’t our memories. It wasn’t until we slipped away to Vegas that we’d ever been on a real vacation together. Weddings in Michigan, or visits to Florida family, don’t count. They’re obligations. As lovely as it is to see people, you’re not vacationing when you attend a wedding, even when it’s at a beautiful resort on the perfect island. Why? Because it’s not about you. It’s not about the book you want to read, the way you want to go to dinner in your bathing suit, and most of all, because you didn’t get to choose it. It’s your free time from work, and you have to spend money to fly somewhere that may be lovely in its own right, but it’s still not what you want. It may be a Cape Cod or Capri wedding, but you’ve already been, and quite frankly, with your limited time off and limited funds, you’d rather be going to Africa on safari. Or to New Zealand’s wine country. The time away might be lovely, but any way you cut it, it’s still an obligation. But we go because we love our families and love our friends, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world. And at the end of the day, that’s what life’s about anyway. But sometimes it’s nice to make your own memories as two.

I’m not complaining that we aren’t that couple. That when I think of our beginning I think of a bag of dirt. Of the way he bought it for me, so I’d fill a martini glass and possibly shoot something for Straight Up and Dirty… a dirty martini perhaps with a young green sprout signifying growth and a new beginning.

That didn’t work, but we did. And while we have very few "just us" memories, we will always have the grocery store.


  1. This sounds bad, (giggle):
    you're not vacating when you attend a wedding,

    umm, "vacationing" : ) ?

    It sounds incredible given the closeness between you and Phil that there's just been one vacation together. The hub and i decided before we got married that we'd continue to take "just us" vacations even when we got us some kids… You both will too, at some point–right?

    FROM SK: Oops. Thanks. I posted and wrote in a hurry. It's really hard to go anywhere we'd want to go (both of us love photography), and we'd want to go somewhere we've never been. But the thought of leaving the kids when they're this age…I just don't want to do it. It's one thing when they're older, but I feel so close to them now. And I don't want to be away from them yet. I will have to be when I go on book tour, at least for some of it. They'll go with me to New York, for sure, but not out to LA, or to Miami…. yes, those places are confirmed! Woo hoo.

  2. I was having one of those days then I read your post… Thank you. My boyfriend and i haven't taken a vacation together yet, and I'm dreading it. I think you can learn a lot about someone by traveling with them. Will it be a deal breaker? I'll let you know.

  3. The grocery store can be illuminating as well. Does she buy boca burger or Gouda stuffed pretzels? Some of my favorite memories have been in aisle 4. Thanks for writing this.

  4. Phil came up with that idea? A martini glass with dirt…ahh, he has some creativity!

    FROM STEPHANIE: Nope. I did. But he is creative. I'm going to, pardon the pun, dig up a photo of the dirt in the glass… and you'll see why I never used it for anything.

  5. Stephanie,

    I love your writing and have been reading your blog for a long time. While I know you and Phil enjoy cooking together and for each other (so it makes sense that the market or grocery store would be a memory for you), I don't read that from this post. The title and last sentence tie together, but only when you know a bit of background about the both of you, does the concept "gel."

    Is that how you meant it to read? More reading between the lines than actual reading the lines? Not being critical, just asking about your writing/thinking process.

    Regardless, I still love your writing!

    FROM STEPHANIE: What an interesting question. I don't know if you're at all familiar with the film, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, but there's a scene where she confronts the President, saying he did this thing with his face when he was lying. He'd done it on TV, and she called him out on it. Apparently, he'd left out "the whole kick ass section."

    I edited this down, whittled it, until nothing much remained but a rant on how expensive weddings can be, not only to your purse but to your relationship, how we make times for other people's "we," but not our own. That's what was behind the lines, what I didn't say in this post. Instead, I left it vague… because I knew tomorrow I'd post a continuation on The Market, but of course, it's not really about the market, but about…well, you'll see for yourself when I post it.Thanks for the note, for caring, and for sticking around.

  6. I hope that you vacation to Seattle for book tour cause a group of us would love to meet you. LOVED straight up & dirty. Can't wait for MOOSE.

    FROM SK: Aw, thanks.

  7. I have been reading your site since you were featured on the cover of the New York Times Style Section. Actually, my mother kept the article for me to read, so I didn't start becoming a Stephanie Klein addict until she handed it to me, but I digress.

    I've loved reading about your "past tense" posts, also those "coming of age" categories, and my friends and I can't wait for Moose! A lot of your posts give me something to talk about with my mother, and I just left her a message about this post, telling her that we should have a vacation just the two of us, as I'm not getting married anytime soon :) I'm still in my first year of college. Anyway, thank you for giving me something to connect with the people I love.

    FROM STEPHANIE: That was so sweet. Thank you (and your mom)

  8. I really like this post. Good point about how expensive weddings can be. I hadn't thought about how expensive they can be to relationships. No matter how excited I am for the couple getting married and the chance to see family and friends, weddings are always fraught with a little anxiety for me. It is kind of like an extended prom but with plane tickets, hotels, wedding gifts, and zapping up of scarce vacation time. I was just talking to my friend about how I cannot wait until my husband and I can do a long weekend somewhere that doesn't involve a wedding.

  9. I'm new to your blog, as we're studying you at our school, along with reading your first book, and I was reading through your archives for hours today!!! Now I have so much work to catch up on, but it was worth it. You write so many things that I think, but never thought to even think twice about. It's nice.You are awesome. I'll send you my paper when it's finished.

  10. I had my first son when I was 18. So my "just me" memories are from high school. My current husband and I both brought children to our marriage so we don't have any "just us" memories either. We daydream a lot about the future when we can finally make our kid-free memories. Obviously I wouldn't trade my kids for anything but I do wish I could have been a child-free adult for a little while. It seems so glorious.

  11. I'm in two wedding this year: One low-key-ish wedding a two hour drive away, and one black tie one all the way in Miami. I'm a bridesmaid in both. Between bachelorette parties, dresses, shoes, hotel rooms, not to mention presents, it's costing me more than $3000, total, a total strech for a school teacher. And all I want to do is take a nice, long romantic vacation with my boyfriend in a tropical paradise. Or a safari in Africa!

    This post was written beautifully. Thank you for always touching on things that are in the back – okay maybe the front – of my mind.

  12. My son is 10 years old, and I still don't feel the need to take vacations without him. They just grow up so fast. I swear, yesterday he was only 2! :)

  13. The cover you chose was about 1000 times better than the dirt idea.

    FROM SK: Uh, yeah, no kidding. The dirt idea didn't work at all.

  14. I liked reading the "rant" on how expensive out of town weddings can be…as my husband and I are set to go to one in a month in Dallas. He's more than miffed at the $1000 price tag. Glad I'm not the only one who thinks this when I get that oh-so-fun invite to see someone get married outside the tri-state area.

    I pre-ordered Moose from Amazon, and I really hope northern jersey is on your tour!

    FROM SK: Sadly Northern NJ is not on the tour list. The closest I'll be is NYC at the start of June.

    Yeah, we just figured out our next wedding trip… needing to take two flights (one to NY to drop kids off with grandparents) then another to separate destination. Parking in Austin the whole time we're gone (same price as two cabs). Dress (In the party). Hotel 4 nights. Flight back to NY, then back to Austin. Can't leave kids in Austin, as we have no family here to watch them. Phil might not go with me, so he can stay here with the kids, and then it's just me and one direct flight to destination. But that sucks.

  15. The posts this week seem like a different style to your usual writing, maybe they're edited down in a different way? Or maybe it's just me.
    The thing about the grocery store just made me think of the part in your book where you're shopping with someone, but I'm pretty sure that's another person.

    FROM SK: Shopping with Gay Max in SU&D, and shop for someone (analyzing purchases) in Moose.

  16. Stephanie: Someone sent me some "cute kids" photos that get passed around, and I could swear that one was of Abigail. She was in a pink knit cap and sweater with rosebuds. Does this sound familiar? I really did a double take. I would send it on, but I doubt that you can accept attachments.

    FROM SK: I can see attachments through my email address. I also doubt it was her, as I don't think I ever put her in a pink knit cap. But thanks.

  17. hooray!! when are you coming to LA?

    FROM SK: End of May or beginning of June.. sorting it out now. I'll post the dates when they're all locked in. Very excited!

  18. I liked the idea of "vacating" best…isn't that what we all wish we could do right around now…a simple escape; and then rejoin all our other loved ones.

  19. It never ceases to amaze me, the incredible women here. All so articulate. Thoughtful, thought provoking. Lovely.
    More men should visit here… just to look.

  20. Some mornings i'll wake to CNN and others this blog. It's not New Year's anymore but I resolve to cozy up to Greek Tragedy more often. I love that you say what I feel in a way that I wish I could express. Thank you. Come to Chicago please.

  21. This reminded me of my vacations with my family growing up. Dad used to have to carry all the luggage and mom would direct us all. Quite the production. Vacation has "vacate" in it.

    LOVED Straight Up & Dirty

  22. I thought ths SAME thing about that "cute kids" email…that little girl in the pink hat has the same eyes…

  23. One of my favorite things in the world is vacationing with the darlings. I know, I know – travelling alone with 3 teenagers isn't everyone's idea of a good time, but we've got it down to an art. We pack up, gas up, snack up and start driving…stop when we want, turn left, turn right, eventually we'll get where we're going. Then to a hotel with at least 2 rooms, or a condo with 3 rooms is better, and we all separate for a bit…

    The rule of our fambly vacations is that none of has to do anything 'until we die', like their dad does. We go to the pool for a bit. We play games for a bit. We drive around for a bit. We do disneyland for a while and then go to the beach. It's all about rest and being together without that sick sense of forced togetherness.

    I love the family vacations…soon, I'll be taking vacations to where they're in college, and the world will shift yet again. But I'll always treasure these trips the most.

    I often wonder if in my late life I write a memoir, if these years will be 'those happy golden years'. I hope there is better yet to come, but it's hard to imagine what they could possibly look like.

    Okay – enough of a ramble – on to work! Thanks for sharing.

    FROM SK: Hardly a ramble, quite enchanting actually. And you should always live believing the best is yet to come, that it's never too late to become what you'll be known for.

  24. I can not believe that it could cost you so much to go to a wedding – that's crazy! Could you take the beans to the wedding? Think how much fun you would have dressing them!!

    FROM SK: I'd would want to be with the bride a lot, and it's not fair to Phil to babysit them the whole time in a non-baby-proofed hotel room. It's easy when we're home, but a lot to handle when they can get into trouble. AND, holy crap, you work for WATHNE? I love their stuff, have a bunch of their scarves and even a lined jacket.

  25. Yes I work for Wathne – they make the best scarves ever! (yes I am a little biased) Sadly though, the store on 57th street closed a few years back and they focused on making handbags. We made the Polo bags for the last 20 years and now we are launching Oscar De La Renta and Via Spiga!
    The next time I am in the NJ warehouse I will take a photo of the thousands of scarves they have in storage out there and I will be sure to let you know when we have a sample sale – maybe you'll be in from Austin.

    FROM SK: I have been to the store, and then also seen WATHNE in Bergdorf's. And I've been to a Wathne sample sale… what bliss. Oh, how I love their scarves so.

    1. Wathne warehouse? Whhosh…I’d like to get an invite to a sample sale, if they still do that.

  26. Hi Stephanie,

    I made a request for you to stop at the downtown Barnes and Noble in Chicago. If you make it to Chicago, any chance you want to give a talk to DePaul business school students and faculty (in the same building as the Barnes and Noble) about the work-family challenges that you face as a writer – nontraditional work schedule, working from home, creating/blurring boundaries, etc? We have a Work-life Initiatve, an Entrepreneurship Center, a Creativity Center, and tons of undergraduate and MBA students who would greatly benefit from hearing you talk.

    I'm a faculty member at DePaul and if this is something you're interested in, let me know. We'll organize everything and supply food and drinks.

    If you're too busy on your tour, I completely understand. No need to post this to the comments page if you don't want to.


  27. I'm looking forward to coming to one of your signings. I highly doubt you'll be coming to Wisconsin, but someone here mentioned Chicago. I can drive there in under four hours. Is Chicago a possibility?

    FROM SK: Yes, it looks like it is… thanks to readers speaking up :)

  28. Stephanie, I absolutely love your book and recommend it to all my girlfriends! Recently when I read it again for the second time, it really hit home that I needed to address my relationship. The BF just wasn't cutting it. What you wrote motivated me to pursue my wants and desires and to not settle for mediocre. Thanks and looking forward to Moose!

  29. Completely unrelated to this post, but I had to say that the picture of Abigail with all the fur around her face in your scrapbook from a few entries ago TOTALLY reminds me of something Marc Jacobs would do if he did baby clothes. So f-ing cute.

  30. My wife and I never went on a real honeymoon either, nut I hate to travel, so it's a-okay with me!

  31. Tying together two of your recent posts, without even meaning to: My hubby and I have been married for 7 years, together for 12, and during that time we've vacationed many, many times together. There are several places, in fact, that we visit every single year at the same time of year, where we have our annual rituals down pat. Sometimes I think about how devastating it will be, if he (god forbid) passes before I do, that not only will I lose him, but I will lose all of those special places that we returned to together year after year. I'd never be able to set foot in one of those places again without him.

  32. Stephanie,

    Just had to share b/c we were "talking" about it this morning. It's a casual Friday @ work and I am wearing jeans and at the last minute I have a mtg @ 5:30 – what to do? I grabbed a pair of Wathne black pants and then dressed the whole thing up with, you guessed it, a Wathne scarf. I got to go into "The Scarf Room" (yes we really do have one here) and pick one out. Sadly, it's a loan, not a gift.
    Enjoy your wknd!
    P.S. I was thrilled to leanr that you have been to a Wathne sample sale!!! So few people even know who they are!

  33. Stephanie,

    I know its not LA…but are you coming to Pittsburgh or anywhere near it??? I really hate living in a less important city!

    FROM SK: You probably need to make some noise about it at your local bookstore. Get a few people to call, and they might make it happen.

  34. The way I see it: With twins under one, we will have little alone time in the near future. I keep saying the next 17 years is all about the girls, and after that, it is all about us. We talked today about living in the UK for a year just for the hell of it. Just dreams and conjectures, but it is nice to knit a future with those threads.

  35. So I'm planning a wedding, in the UK which is a bit smaller than the USA, but people will still have to travel from cities across the country which will involve trains and hotels at the very least. How do with do this without it costing them a fortune, because we want them there, but can't pay for them all?!

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