How “The Bold Type” Saved Me From My Pandemic Loneliness As A new Mom

‘The Bold Type’ | Freeform

By Christine Meade

For the past few weeks, I have been binging ‘The Bold Type‘ on Hulu while socially isolating with a strong-gummed newborn attached to one of my porn-star sized breasts. The show follows three trendy female best friends who work for a leading women’s magazine in NYC. They tackle some important topics from current headlines ranging from the #metoo movement to gender reassignment surgery to racism. But mostly the attractive and progressive millennial trio–Kat, Jane, and Sutton–get to go out for cocktails and write highly-praised personal columns and eat ice cream at each other’s cute apartments. As I watch, jealous and lonely, I find myself thinking: but what will happen once the pandemic hits? How will they cope? I’m assuming they have yet to film that season, but I am here for it when they do. 

I sit through each episode while the girls have great sex and I wonder if my body–with the pelvis that feels like it was hit by a truck during childbirth–will ever be able to enjoy such frivolities again. They even wear sexy black lingerie to entice their significant others, which I am surprised to learn anyone has donned since the nineties. In one episode in season three, Kat is running for city council and she gathers all of her friends and supporters together in a bar for a party. My eyes well remembering a time like that, when I wasn’t sitting alone in the dark at 3 a.m. with my newborn, making the sh sh sh sound for what feels like hours on end. When I could still feel that zingy first buzz of a good drink in a dark bar when I knew I looked good. 

If only I were a decade younger, I think. 

Sure, the lives of these 26-year-olds are filled with the challenges of cheating boyfriends and uncertain sexual orientations, but aren’t everyone’s? I was in grad school at 26, getting my MFA in creative writing in San Francisco, teetering on its last bohemian legs before entirely succumbing to the tech world. I felt like I’d finally been let into some elite club I had been pursuing my whole life without realizing it. I was a Writer now. Finally. It felt wild and indulgent and gravely important to talk about books with writers in grimy bars after workshops. To allow myself to imagine that a writing life could be a life, and it could be mine. 

At 26, I was walking through the humming streets of San Francisco with a few of my best friends sharing swigs from a cheap bottle of tequila chased with a handful of Skittles. It was all we could afford. We were all untethered, single, in love with each other and the city. Maybe something not far off from ‘The Bold Type’, only with less stylish earrings and access to haute couture. We’d walk miles through San Francisco’s streets after getting ready in my tiny studio apartment to save money on cab fare because we were broke, and we’d crash into an art school house party where everyone maintained a certain unvarnished glamour in their hand-me-down sweaters with the holes. 

One such night, my friend Alex and I were careening from one bar to the next in the Mission at midnight–as we were apt to do most weekend nights–when I walked by my ex-boyfriend from Boston. The one I’d broken up with two years before. The one who had no business being in my new city, especially not at midnight on some street in the Mission. The one whose imprint of first love hadn’t yet left my heart. ‘The Bold Type’ made me remember how the pain of love lost in your twenties carries with it a unique brand of gut-punch because you haven’t yet built up the abdominal wall resilience to know you can withstand such romantic blows. That night, after walking home drunk and alone, I cried on the phone to my grad school friend Lisa, mascara smearing my cheeks, wondering why seeing people from your past could make your present feel so lonely.

I’ve now learned, however, the particular brand of loneliness attached to new motherhood runs far deeper than the self-indulgent mid-twenties variety. This outpaces reminiscing about old boyfriends and friendships stretched thin by time. This is a just-me-and-a-non-verbal-baby thing, twenty-four hours a day thing, in the middle of the night and on quiet mornings at 6 a.m. thing, when the birds on the trees haven’t even woken yet. This motherhood loneliness while quarantined during a pandemic is startlingly blunt. It has turned time on its head, where each day stretches long until the anxiety of the nighttime approaches and then suddenly, just like that, weeks have gone by. 

Although we swore–most likely to protect ourselves from the disappointment of failure–that we would never become those people, my close group of friends from that mid-twenties MFA period in my life are coupled now, are homeowners, are parents, have careers and savings accounts. Back then all we cared about was being writers and going on day trips north of the city and finding really good bottles of California red wine and watching sexy Spanish movies with subtitles. 

We focussed on trying to get published and weren’t nearly as successful as ‘The Bold Type’s “30 Under 30 Writer” Jane and her novelist boyfriend nicknamed Pinstripe. We’d submit to literary magazines–dozens of them–and query agents–hundreds of them–and collect a pile of rejections most individuals who are not artists could never even begin to fathom the weight of.

We don’t see each other that much anymore–sure, we text and exchange emails, but we’ve lost that irreplaceable twenty-something friend-love affair as most people do. This is why I’ve taken to referring to Kat, Jane, and Sutton now as my best friends when I plod to the couch – baby and diapers and wipes in tow – because each episode is like visiting with friends during a time in our global history when seeing friends is not only prohibited but potentially lethal. 

For the past few weeks, I haven’t written a word when typically I commit to the modest, but respectable one hour a day of writing, five days a week. In April, two weeks before my baby emerged from the womb, my first novel ‘The Way You Burn’ was published. Perhaps not so ironically, my novel is about a mid-twenties man making relationship and life mistakes while trying to craft some sense of self-identity. In doing so, he uncovers long-hidden family secrets that threaten to shake his whole understanding of the world. Which makes me think, thank God I made it out of my mid-twenties. 

So, yes, I suppose my 26-year-old publishing dreams did come true, just a decade later than they did for my friends in The Bold Type. I wonder if the three girls will remain as close once they make it to their thirties. Will they still be showing up at each other’s respective homes with encouragement and cute clothes and wine when they are mothers? Until then, I will watch and wait and look forward to the second half of season four, which airs on June 11th.

“The Bold Type” | Freeform

Christine Meade is a writer, editor, and educator. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts. A native New Englander, Christine currently lives and writes outside of Boston, MA. “The Way You Burn” is her first book, to be published by She Writes Press in April 2020. To learn more about Christine Meade’s life and work, visit her website, https://www.christine-meade.com

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