Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On Pajamas & Found Happiness, by Dominique Browning is an honest, touching memoir about the editor-in-chief of House & Gardens (magazine). So, the story begins before Conde´ Nast’s astonishing decision to close the magazine. Suddenly, Dominique finds herself in her fifties: alone, jobless and loveless.
I have met a few editor-in-chiefs in the past twelve years while doing PR for Rescue Beauty Lounge’s business, particularly at Conde´ Nast. Some are warm, friendly and well— lovely— and then there are some who are intimidating and standoffishly detached. Inside its towering headquarters in Time Square there is airport- like security, with hefty guards in the lobby and a long line waiting for clearance. The elevator scene is simply petrifying, there are designer-bedecked girls wearing angry-cool-blank stares and frowns to a perfection. Infected by their fashion bitchery I, too, frown harder (note to self, must practice this look in front of a mirror). After House & Gardens closed, many magazines followed, leading up to the “October Massacre” that shut down Gourmet, Cookie and two bridal magazines in one single day. I’m still grieving and yearning for my monthly, much cherished, Gourmet magazine.
Dominique Browning writes beautifully, she doesn’t squeeze out the “poor me” sympathy and she is refreshingly normal. There are no pretenses of self- entitlement that one expects (with all the spoiled trimmings) from an editor, rather, her identity was her job. For an example of her normalcy, her sleepwear preference is the unfashionable Lenz and the classic men’s Brooks Brothers drawstring pajamas, not the silky Prada slips or the coveted collection from Sabbia Rosa of Paris. She writes true to her feelings of failed love and the raw, vulnerable emotions that she had to digest when she came to the realization that she is not only her job. Deftly, she divides the book into four seasons and as she begins downsizing possessions, she slowly heals enough to enter into her new life: living with less, making peace with the silence and loving her true self.
If I had read this book during my late twenties or even in my thirties, I would have saved more and shopped a lot less. She had saved and made wise investments, so that she could fall back in ailing times. I respect her for the fact that she worked for everything she owns, which is rare in her circle, for I, too, have worked non-stop since I was sixteen. I can relate to her fears. This story does not have a triumphant happy ending, and not all her sorrows are resolved with an entrance of a savior. It resembles a real life, as Dominique slowly re-discovers herself, making peace and welcoming another unknown chapter in her life. My own gratitude level spiked high after reading this book and I realized that I’m lucky to have what I have in life. As I, too, will enter into a new chapter in my life, this book has taught me that you never know when life takes the wind out of you: I don’t want to wait until I’m incapacitated by unforeseen incidents. I’m starting my own slow love now…