Wordy Wednesday: Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Five years ago I got a migraine that changed the course of my life. It lasted for months. I used migraine medication so often that it stopped working, and after a few months of off-and-on relief, the migraines were back non-stop.
I had to leave my career as a chiropractor and dedicate my days to healing. At first, that meant staying home as much as possible and avoiding migraine triggers: car rides, computer and TV screens, physical activity.
Mom mailed me my art supplies from high school, and when I felt up to it I painted with watercolors while listening to podcasts. (The theme song to Hysteria and the voice of Erin Ryan will forever take me back to the summer of 2018.)
When I felt ready to return to work, I still wasn’t ready to return to chiropractic, a physically exhausting job in which computer use is unavoidable. Instead, I turned to something I’ve been doing since I was a teenager: tutoring.
Ever since the migraines began I’ve had to rewrite my life to manage them. A younger version of me envisioned making a name for myself in my field and earning big bucks to go along with it. (That younger version also expected to be married by age 22 and have 3-4 kids by age 30. Ha!)
I have a good life: I’m a part-time tutor (a job I love) with a great husband (whom I love) and two cats (whom I also love). But I still feel the reverberations from when migraines upended my ambitions.
In Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s Good Company, Flora is blindsided when she finds her husband’s wedding ring—a ring he claimed was lost—in the back of a file cabinet. In middle age with a daughter graduating high school, Flora has a good life: she has a voice-acting career, and she’s married to Julian, also an actor.
Finding that ring changes everything. Flora has to confront Julian who has to confess and explain and apologize. What’s worse is Flora’s best friend Margot’s involvement in the ordeal.
“For so many years, she’d waited for the bad thing, the thing that would define her life, because didn’t everyone have not only one, but several? But then she began to think she was safe (oh, foolish heart) because she and Julian had had small bad things.”
Flora thinks, if only I hadn’t found the ring. I think, if only I had never gotten migraines. She could have kept the life she built, and I could have built the life I dreamed.
Whose life turns out how they expected? Does anyone get all the things that they (thought they) wanted?
Maybe hardship is not baggage, but a blank slate. A re-invention.
The words below come from Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. For each you’ll find the sentence in which I found the word, its Oxford definition, additional context if needed, and finally a sentence of my own using the word.
“The three of them were logy and irritable from indulgence—days of cheese and baguettes, foie gras nearly every night, the croissants, the chocolate, the wine” (3).
Adjective: dull and heavy in motion or thought; sluggish.
Oh, my hamstrings, she thought, making her way down the stairs as if walking through snow sludge, logy from yesterday’s strenuous gardening.
“She told herself that was the reason Margot was received poorly, even by the critics clamoring for something better and smarter than the standard sitcom pabulum” (22).
Noun: bland or insipid intellectual fare, entertainment, etc.; pap.
Of all reality TV out there, none of the usual pabulum holds a flame to Bridalplasty, a show about brides competing for plastic surgery and a dream wedding. (How did it only have one season?!)
“She’d reached a kind of detente with [name redacted—no spoilers!], and they would try to muddle through” (304).
Noun: the easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.
In the beloved show Gilmore Girls, any detente between Lorelai and Emily is guaranteed to be short-lived as old resentments rise anew.