From the moment Laura Jane Williams mentioned her friend Meg Fee’s book on Instagram, I knew that this book would be a comfort to me. It just came along at the right time.
Places I Stopped on the Way Home: A Memoir of Chaos and Grace – Meg Fee
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots her life in New York City- from falling in love at the Lincoln Centre 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.
Ok, this makes it sound really cheesy. But as I try to make my own way in the world, I am loving this wave of wise young women sharing the lessons they have learned. Made more exciting by the way we think we ‘know’ them from their social media and blogging presence. Also: I don’t know if it’s solely because of Royal Wedding fever but I think there is something of Meghan Markle about the beautiful Meg Fee? No?
Meg lived in New York for 13 years, since she was 18. She met a lot of ‘maybe’ men, she battled an eating disorder, she hated jobs, she lost a friend in that painful way we all seem to have suffered. But she makes every warm cupped latte and cold bitter wind sound beautiful.
Laura Jane Williams, a feminist whirlwind I love to follow on Instagram @superlativelylj was email friends with Meg Fee for several years before they finally met in Paris. They shared the most intimate things across the Atlantic Ocean. I love that. And it gives reminds me of Time to Talk Beauty and I! (Irish Sea… met in Belfast, still!)
“This is a missive to and from the muddled middle.”
Each chapter is a place in New York, the West Village, The A Train, West 10th Street. She plots disappointments and her own mistakes, she doesn’t dwell on work, because it’s not important. I love how she writes. There’s one chapter, ‘On Home’ and she writes ‘And when I call you in hysterics, when I collapse into you undone by something you think small and ridiculous, just the moment before your impulse to fix everything kicks in, give me three words: I hear you.’
Reading between the lines, I don’t think she’s met the man of her dreams just yet, but she’s ok with that. She’s often overwhelmed by how much there is to look forward to. Most of the women I have read, shared, sent the link around to friends recently, the ones writing most truthfully and relatably about love are alone.
Maybe the danger is Meg’s chaos and grace are not as chaotic and a lot more graceful than mine. Briefly I worry that my misadventures and wasted time and indecision are a lot more damaging than hers. But this is not the point.
It’s a book you want to underline and memorise passages from, and I just love that so many women are sharing their favourite lines online. I was crying by the end. There’s a lot of wisdom here. I was annoyed LJW picked out a line in the foreword, ‘I am every man who has hurt me, and the quiet hope that we’ve only got to get it right once.’ Because what a cracker of a line, and I was waiting for it throughout the whole book.
‘The year leading up to my 30th birthday was astonishing. Mostly in it’s ability to wound. It was a year of so many What Ifs and blind curves on unlit roads. A year in which, just as soon as I thought I knew where the story was going, the ground would shift beneath my feet.’
I think anyone who is struggling with their twenties will get something from this book. I have read it twice already. Hold fast to hope, as Meg would say.