When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time thinking about the names I would someday give my future daughters (or because I was twelve years old and hadn’t thought in a rational way about parenthood or having children, the names I wished I had been given myself). Most of these names were derived from books and tv shows and Mary-Kate and Ashley movies – names like Riley, and Chloe, and Zoe, and Charlie. I thought of these as “cool girl” names, and though I recognized how silly this was as I got older, something about the notion stuck with me over the years.
And when I first met Chloe Daniels years ago while we worked in a retail gig together, everything I knew about her fit the cool girl bill – she was effortlessly laid back, with gorgeous waves and a gregarious personality and I remember the way she talked about reading Charles Bukowski made me want to read Charles Bukowski. We were younger than either of us probably felt when we first met at the Buckle – I was 22 and fresh of out college, and she was 19 (I think!), and it’s that time frame in life that can sometimes feel like everything’s out there for you but you have no idea how to reach it or where to begin. I floated my directions and Chloe floated in hers, and I didn’t see her in person again for years.
I followed along via social media (as you do) with her life, and I watched it unfold through my computer screen. She took a job in China and started a travel blog, and she dated here and there and had boyfriends here and there, and changed some jobs and moved to a new city and as it turns out, we both ended up moving from Peoria, IL to the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. The time frame when I learned that Chloe now lived a twenty minute walk from me coincided with a couple of things – my announcement of working on the singles project, and her announcement that she and her boyfriend were breaking up, and her sharing of this information in a resurgence of her interest in blogging. All of these things led Chloe to reach out to me, which led me to spend an afternoon reconnecting with a girl I used to sell boutique denim alongside years ago.
Chloe had just moved into her new apartment a week earlier when I walked up the flights of stairs to meet her in her doorway. She let me in, and light filled her new apartment as she told me about her new roommate she met through Craigslist who had been there for years, which explained the lived in, homey feel of her new space. Prior to living here, Chloe had been living with her boyfriend – they first dated back in 2010, and after a messy break up and some years apart, they eventually found themselves back together again in 2017. After some time dating long distance, he decided to move to Chicago and they found a place together, and everything worked until it didn’t. They broke up while still living together, and Chloe started apartment hunting as they both slowly began to pack up their lives and belongings once again, this time with the end goal of moving in separate directions.
So when I met Chloe for this session, I knew from her blog posts that she had just gone through a breakup – I knew that they had mutually called it and boxed up their things and she’d said goodbye to his dog and the guy she had intended to spend the rest of her life with. Truth be told, I’ve never been in a situation even remotely like this myself – as a person who has been single far more often than not, I can’t personally comprehend what it feels like to imagine spending the rest of your life with a particular person, and then to feel that feeling start to shift, until it shifts further than you knew it could and it’s drifted away, out of your reach, and you feel yourself needing to simply let it go. I don’t know what it feels like to go through this, but I’d imagine it would feel a bit like starting over.
These sessions are not necessarily structured, nor do they always follow a particular expectation or schedule – we often discuss what it’ll look like prior to our meeting, but ultimately the plans end up being made based on how the subject’s day had been going. Chloe pulled her mat out to do some afternoon yoga, and she touched immediately on the idea of doing the pretty poses vs. the poses that would actually feel good to her in that moment, and I knew exactly what she meant. There are millions of photos of people striking beautiful yoga poses on the internet, but not necessarily the poses that look less skillful or elegant. But Chloe went ahead and did the latter anyway, because she knew it’s what her body needed at that time. It’s one of my many favorite things about Chloe – she’s introspective, but both vulnerable and thus accessible in said introspection. She’s thinking about what and why and how she’s doing a certain thing or feeling a certain emotion, and then she’ll share it with you.
I think it’s easy to assume that dating would be one of the main topics when it comes to these sessions, and while it *sometimes is, it also sometimes simply isn’t – and when it came to my time with Chloe, it wasn’t. As someone with a lot of single years under my belt, this makes total sense to me, but I realize it may not to those who are in relationships or married and/or have been out of the dating scene for a bit. There are times when dating feels relevant and intriguing as a single person – when you may download a dating app or two, and you may grab drinks with a stranger or give someone your number. There are other times, however, when dating just isn’t on your mind – work may be busy, or perhaps you’ve picked up a new hobby or two, or you would rather focus your time and energy on spending time with the people already in your life. I loved seeing all of the latter in Chloe as we sat at a nearby wine bar and I sipped champagne with her and her friend, Elyse – we talked briefly about dating, but more so about not dating. Chloe told me she was working with her therapist instead about trying to understand why she had picked certain types of men continually in the past as she listed their names, and how she when she stepped back, she could see they shared overarching themes of victim playing and misogyny, and she wanted to focus first on why that was rather than finding someone new. So we spent far more time talking about her blog, Clo Bare, which at the time was still somewhat in stages of infancy. That said, the energy and passion Chloe held for it already was apparent as she told me about her vision for it – for it to be reflective, and to make sure she’s never trying too hard, and to write about Tinder without offending readers while also not filtering herself. We did this session over a year ago, and I feel like I’ve been happily watching Chloe and her blog develop since – her topics and posts have a way of growing with her, and she’s writing about everything from body image to budgeting to dating after trauma now. She’s collaborating with other bloggers and recently co-founded Chicago Boss Babe Brunch, and her readership continues to increase as Chloe continues to do what she does best – writing honestly about what it’s like to navigate adulthood, and talking just as much about the shitty parts as the great parts as she does so.
So as much as I thought the Chloe I met in 2010 was a cool girl, I think the 2019 version is even cooler.
“I’m just sharing and growing and learning,” she told me, with a wine glass in one hand and one of her best friends in the seat next to her. She said it matter-of-factly but with clear excitement, and it reminded me of how the connotation of “starting over” isn’t always negative, because sometimes, it’s the freshest of starts.