Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness
by Dominique Browning
First line: My eighty-year-old French cousin’s voice rings in my ears.
Synopsis (from jacket cover): “For over a decade, Dominique Browning ws editor-in-chief of Conde Nast’s House and Garden. One Monday morning in November 2007, the magazine folded and she was told she had four days to pack up her office. Like thousands who followed her, she was out of work. Overnight, her driven, purpose-filled days vanished….”
Review: This is the second memoir in a row that has taken me gently by surprise. Initially, I was afraid I would not be able to relate to Browning: the New York City setting, high-powered magazine editor career, and long-suffering relationship with a married man (legally separated, but still…) were initial barriers. Plus, I am semi-reflective at best and Browning needed to sift through her life slowly, so I worried that the journey would become tedious.
However, once Browning begins her move to Rhode Island, at the mid-point of her memoir, I noticed how artfully she was finding “object lessons” in her life and I became hooked.
I could empathize with her move from her home in New York since I soon will leave the beloved home my husband and I created while engaged. Her love of Bach echoed my own, and her foray into cooking muffins paralleled my own experiences since I, too, have just recently discovered this passion. I had never, ever cooked — let alone baked — until I left the classroom. I used to be too exhausted at the end of the day to even consider shopping let alone combining ingredients in any sort of edible combination. In fact, I still remember when I, too, realized Browning’s observation that
“the only trustworthy method for choosing a recipe of any sort: if it has the ingredients you like, you will enjoy the combination of them. If some of them are suspect, they will only be made worse in the aggregate. This is true of muffins, and of men… Bad ingredients don’t get folded into the batter; they are mysteriously enhanced in the combining.”
So obvious yet only in retrospect…!
In addition, the first sentence of the section titled Spring caught my attention:
Spring blows in so wildly that it seems unnatural, or perhaps I just notice what spring really feels like once I’m not sealed in an office building all day. Weather — the actual experience of it, not the forecast — is one of the more dramatic discoveries that comes with slowing down the pace of my life… It dawns on me that there is something unsavory about having been so cut off from the natural world that I am surprised by the golden hue in the slant of light at four in the afternoon, on a weekday, no less.
This passage resonated deeply and sparked a memory that, in retrospect, was a harbinger indicating I needed to leave the traditional classroom. Living in Minnesota, I frequently left and returned to my house in the dark, and after fifteen years in the same classroom, found myself gazing longingly out my windows during my prep hour with a physical need to be outside. Now that have more control over my time and setting, I still embrace each season gratefully.
Soon I realized that as divergent as our past lives had been, we find comfort in many of the same things. I, too, did not discover many of these comforts until I left my all-consuming teaching job and was fortunate that this opportunity was paired with the deep joy of finding my husband, rather than a job loss and the end of a difficult ambivalent relationship. So, Browning’s reflective memoir ultimately reflected my own journey to slowing down and finding job.
I must recommend this memoir as one that may give unexpected comfort — or if you simply enjoy a well-wrought memoir. Interested? Simply leave me a comment and I will choose a winner soon!