Zelda and Scout, A Final Conversation

Zelda: Shall we start at the beginning?

Scout: A very good place to start.

Zelda: Let’s go back to the spring of 2014, when we first started having conversations about this project, which at the time was just a vague amorphous thing. I was working as a barista at a cake shop in Chelsea, several months into my first year in New York. We had just survived the polar vortex. And I was, frankly, pretty miserable.

Scout: I was equally underemployed in multiple jobs, working three-and-a-half days a week in museum admissions and filling my nights with restaurant shifts, newly out of grad school with a shiny diploma and a very small job market in my chosen field. 

Zelda: I had left Paris and moved to the city because I wanted to write and New York seemed like the place to do it. But after nine months of freelancing and a truly awful internship and interviews that seemed to go nowhere, it felt like I was failing. I was broke. I was frustrated. I was overwhelmed. I was cold. Everything seemed impossibly hard, and I kept asking myself, if I was just going to work in a coffee shop and freelance on the side, why would I choose to do that in an expensive, crowded, dirty city that I didn’t love? I was disappointed in New York, this place I had dreamed about living in for so much of my life, for letting me down, and disappointed in myself for not being tough enough to “make it” here.

Scout: I was in the middle of finding that the graduate degree everyone said I needed wasn’t helping me get the full-time job I wanted. I was overqualified education-wise and underqualified experience-wise (the Millennial Employment Paradox™). My grad school experience just really led to more questions about what I wanted to actually do with my life. 

Zelda: So we were both frustrated, with ourselves and with this city we were trying to carve a niche for ourselves in, and so I think the idea for the blog came out of that. The world wasn’t giving us outlets for our creative energy, so we would make our own. And if New York was going to kick the shit out of us, at least we’d get some good material out of it.

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Scout: And as we grappled with New York, we pined for the then greener pastures of our home state and city. We met more people who, when we told them we were from Kentucky and weren’t ashamed of that, dropped their jaws in surprise. We wanted to shed a light on how where we grew led us to New York, and how it was helping and hurting us in trying to make our way in this crazy town.

Zelda: Also I think the idea of collaborating on a project together was appealing. We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and I liked the idea of having this creative space to play together, and a reason to make time to regularly see each other and create some structure in what was then a pretty structureless, can’t-plan-my-life-more-than-a-week-ahead life. Of course almost as soon as we decided to start, my life at least changed pretty dramatically. One of the seemingly fruitless interviews I had done suddenly panned out, and I found myself gainfully employed, in the field I’d been trying to break into, which seemed like a not-so-minor miracle (although my schedule didn’t get any more consistent, at least for the first year).

Scout: But we dealt with it, and it wasn’t so dramatic a change that it threw us off course. It made it harder to meet up some weeks because we were working opposite schedules, but the best results come from challenges, yes? 

Zelda: I think it forced us to be productive with the time we did have to work together. We became masters of the Google sheet and the to-do list. Plus, at that time, my job involved a lot of downtime in which I could write and produce posts.

Scout: We also set a pretty ambitious output goal for our first year. I don’t think, looking back, we ever would have chosen to aim for three posts a week knowing what we know now.

Zelda: And we were so consistent! That whole first year, I don’t think we ever missed a post, and we even had bonus weeks around holidays (like Derby) where we had posts going up every day. But that’s how committed we were to making this a real thing we could be proud of. 

Scout: It really was impressive. I think that first year really taught me about myself as a writer, or at least convinced me that, yes, I was a writer — something I never would have called myself at the start of this project.

Zelda: And as someone who does identify as a writer, I loved the freedom and challenge of it. I’ve never been someone who’s good about just writing regularly for writing’s sake. I need deadlines and structure, even if it’s self-imposed. And I think having you as a partner, someone to keep me accountable, was hugely helpful, too.

Scout: There is no way either of us would have made it to five years alone. Even together, this last leg has been tough. 

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Zelda: Yeah, so, speaking of tough. A lot has happened in those five years.

Scout: Seriously, I feel like we both became actual adults, for one. 

Zelda: We’re both in full-time jobs now, which demand a lot more of our time. They’re definitely more rewarding and fulfilling than what we were doing in 2014.

Scout: More rewarding, but more draining as well. It’s hard to fit in time to write something that we’re proud of. Did I think in 2014 I would be in a job that is maybe the only thing that’s the exact combination of my undergrad and graduate degrees? No. But I am happy it happened. And I am (most of the time) happy to go in to work, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time to produce content outside of that.

Zelda: And did I think in 2014 that I would be getting paid to report and write for one of my all-time favorite publications? I may have dreamed it, but I don’t think I realistically thought it would come true, especially given the low point I was at that spring.

Scout: We’re very privileged and lucky, but that means acknowledging our limitations when it comes to our side projects. 

Zelda: I think we’ve both seen the end coming for a while. We cut down on our posts per week in year two, and then again in year three. We started to miss weeks. And I think since January of this year it has just become insurmountable. We weren’t posting regularly; when we did post, it was often rushed and not of the quality we have come to expect from ourselves. And so rather than continue to dig ourselves into a hole, we decided to close this chapter.

Scout: The right decision I think. Five years is a mighty long time for a blog to consistently post. 

Zelda: It is! I’m really proud of what we’ve created in this cozy little corner of the internet. We’ve made playlists that have become the soundtrack to my life and gift guides that I’ve actually used to buy people presents, written essays about home and growing up and New York experiences good and bad.

Scout: We’ve brought Kentucky’s Derby tradition to New York nearly every year we’ve been here, and we took our little slice of New York home with us to Derby! 

Zelda: We’ve made countless cocktails and cakes and some very successful fried chicken and jambalaya. Books, music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, sports, theatretravelreligion, Halloween costumes — we’ve really covered it all.

Scout: We’ve stretched the parameters of this blog’s theme to the very edge (we’re not sure our road trip to Canada is really within the realm of our original premise, but we just needed to share).

Zelda: But I think that’s part of what I’m proudest of too: that as we’ve grown, the blog has grown with us. I was talking to a friend, who is one of our most loyal readers, and she was remarking on how much our relationships to New York have changed since we started and how cool it’s been to watch that evolve. I love that we have a record of the ways we made New York home, and all the ups and downs and adventures that have happened along the way.

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Scout: And our friendship has grown and changed as well! We’ve become friends in different and new ways, and found new shared interests and new things to be enthusiastic about, and merged our friend groups and introduced each other to new besties. 

Zelda: Truly epically successful friend match-making has been done on both our parts.

Scout: Truly epic. 

Zelda: I keep coming back to something you said earlier: that we became adults over the course of doing this blog. If you look at the years it covers, we went from 24 — still pretty freshly out of school, making our first home for ourselves unaided by the structure of an academic or professional program — to almost 30. There’s a lot of growing up that happens over that half-decade. 

Scout: I call my mom to ask how to do things a lot less now. (I still call her a lot, just not for clarification on home maintenance or my taxes.)

Zelda: I mean I called mine a lot in the last week, but I think I get a pass for having a broken foot (speaking of things coming full circle…).

Scout: You’d think you could handle it by now…this is the, what number are we on again?

Zelda: Four. This is number four.

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Scout: Zelda’s delicate feet notwithstanding, we have become much stronger in the last five years.

Zelda: We both know who we are better than we did when we started, and we’re more confident and comfortable in choosing to live in that truth and not worry about other people’s expectations or opinions.

Scout: I came out on this blog. I used this as a place to solidify and explore who I am, who I want to be. This place really gave us a chance to grow in our own identities. 

Zelda: There’s a quote I love from the wonderful (and Southern) Flannery O’Connor: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” This blog has been a space where we’ve figured out what we have to say, about both the silly, trivial stuff and the big, deep, life stuff. We’ve both worked through a lot of stuff in this space, because it felt safe and fun — and, even if nobody else was, we always knew the other person was listening.

Scout: There’s something freeing about knowing your readership is likely limited to a small number and not the mass readers of a major publication. And there’s an intimacy in knowing that that small readership is there because they’re interested. They care. 

Zelda: As someone who now writes for a much, much larger audience, it’s scary! There’s a lot of pressure there that doesn’t exist here, and I feel like I can be free and be myself in a way I can’t always when I’m writing for work. And that I will miss.

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Scout: I think we will miss it, but it’s the right decision. 

Zelda: It’s sad to say goodbye, but I also think it’s time. I am grateful to have had this space to learn and grow. I’m really proud of the content we created. And, important note, it isn’t going anywhere! Zelda and Scout will live on, for as long as WordPress remains in business.

Scout: We’re proud of what we’ve made and we’re certainly not going to take any of it down. 

Zelda: And who knows, maybe we’ll revive it one day, or pop in with the occasional post when we’re feeling particularly inspired or need a place to process or vent or gush.

Scout:  You never know. 

Zelda: And if you miss us, you can follow my writing here.

Scout: And listen to my podcast here.

Zelda: But for now, in this space, it’s time to say goodbye.

Scout: Cue the Celine Dion.

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Zelda: Speaking of Celine, we didn’t want to leave y’all without a parting gift. A “thanks for having us,” as it were. Our mamas raised us right.

Scout: This is the part of the party where I’m trying to subtly encourage everyone to get out via carefully curated music selection. 

Zelda: And so we’re closing this chapter the way we started: with a playlist.

Scout: That’s what we call full circle.

Zelda: Thanks for doing this with me, Scout.

Scout: It’s been real. Thank you. 

Zelda: We’ll see y’all around.

 

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