I discovered Kate Fridkis a few years ago through Eat the Damn Cake, no longer a widely syndicated blog about eating, body image, feminism, and life. I read through the blog amazed: here was my alter ego, writing about the things that I cared about, and often no closer to any of the answers than I was. She included an “unroast” at the end of each post about one thing that she liked about herself. These reminded me of a Regina Spektor line: “I’ve got a perfect body/’cause my eyelashes catch my sweat.”
Fridkis is cool but dorky: she lives in Brooklyn but she was home-schooled. She writes candidly about not making money writing and about the difficulty of being a very introspective person who often overthinks things, which I can certainly relate to.
Fridkis is also unique in that she’s married, has a child, and writes about this. I read a lot of writers my age-ish, and very few of them have and/or write about family. I don’t mean to say that young people have to write about home and family–I mean to say that I’m tired of reading about home and family only in magazines like Better Homes & Gardens. I’m not a well-to-do mother of three ensconced in a home in the countryside, but I am a married woman expecting a child who could use some camaraderie from someone under thirty.
Enter Growing Eden, published by Thought Catalog. The book, which is more of a collection of essays, traces Fridkis’ experience from getting a positive pregnancy test to giving birth. She’s incredibly worried about a lot of things that I am also concerned about, like being a mother before achieving careers success (check) and thinking too much about her own career (check).
Fridkis is incredibly generous with insight into her fears; the book is thoroughly honest. I was completely engaged with her experience not only because of how much we have in common (young women, living in cities, trying to make it as writers), but also because of the level of detail Fridkis shares about her own thoughts. “I have these bouts of angsty existentialism that are embarrassing even as I’m being quietly devastated by them,” she writes. Someone else might worry about, you know, being embarrassed. But sharing her innermost thoughts, her deepest fears, her sick fascinations (reading obsessively about infertility as soon as she becomes pregnant) and her ill-timed reactions (crying when she finds out it’s a girl) reveals how human she is, even if you can’t exactly relate.
Writing through your own personal lens is often more revealing than trying to explain an entire phenomenon–writing a memoir about your particular pregnancy, for example, is a much better way to explain what pregnancy is like than trying to interview every pregnant woman ever. Fridkis’ insight into this one particular experience sheds light on the human experience, and gives a small picture of what it is like to grow up as you grow another human, here, now, in the US in the 2010’s.