RHINEBECK, NY – Travel, food, parenting and sex writer Alyssa Shelasky recently experimented with a new medium: composing a “missed connection” on Craigslist.
Earlier this year, she bought a weekend house near Rhinebeck, NY, with her partner, Sam Russell, and she tried to settle down, maybe even find a friend. “When we first moved here during the winter, I was a bit lost and disoriented,” she said. “I hate feeling like a tourist.”
So she took her kids, Hazel, 6, and River, 2, to the farmer’s market. His experience was not really bucolic. “As I was driving away in our used Dodge minivan, a woman in a gleaming Mercedes was violently beeping me and fingering me for not moving fast enough,” she said.
Ms Shelasky said she had a large community of girlfriends back home in New York, but not around Rhinebeck. “I think I have a very strong sense of myself,” she said. “I’m a mother, then a writer, then a girlfriend.” Being out of town with no one to talk about life with, “or to talk about sex, it’s kind of weird for me.”
But then she met a British woman who was in a playground with her children. “She was funny, relaxed and self-deprecating,” Ms. Shelasky said. “It was very uplifting.” Ms Shelasky wanted to swap numbers but didn’t get the chance before her children ran out of steam. “We awkwardly said goodbye, and I left staring at her longingly as she looked at me.”
So she posted the “Missed Connection”.
She got two replies… from men looking for a different kind of connection. Not that it’s outside Ms. Shelasky’s comfort zone: For the past seven years, she’s been the Sex Diaries editor for New York magazine, and the kind of person who will freely admit: ” I breastfed both of my children and had sex with a bra on.
On a recent mild Friday evening, a few days before the publication of his memoirs, “It Might Be Too Personal: and Other Intimate Storiesshe spent a rare night away from her family in the village of Rhinebeck.
“I always try to give my kids a good time, and they need a lot of attention and they come first. I was never able to be myself in my new place,” he said. she said while browsing the home goods store House SFW, which sells antique French linens with lobsters embroidered on them and sets of cocktail glasses for $400.
“When I marry a rich second husband – even though I’m anti-marriage – I will register here,” she said.
“I can’t figure out here, if it’s ‘namaste’ and carob chips,” Ms Shelasky said as she crossed the street towards Samuel’s Sweet Shop.
She wanted to buy candy necklaces for her daughter. “Hazel is the leader of a black market candy ring at school,” she said. “I’m like, you’re 6, that’s criminal. But I guess I’m an enabler because I keep buying him candy.
The store is partly owned by actor Paul Rudd. “I have a framed picture of us in the house,” Ms. Shelasky said. She was taken at a gala where Mr Rudd was the celebrity host and she was attending about four months after having her daughter as a single mother by choice.
“Everyone was like, ‘It’s going to be hard’ or ‘You’re never going to have a social life again.’ But I was there, dressed, ready and I had it together,” she said. “The picture is like, I’m here, I’m fine, I’m glowing.
Ms. Shelasky, who wore a Zadig and Voltaire print camisole and Mother jeans, walked around Le Petit Bistro to sit at the bar for dinner. She ordered a dirty gin martini and said, “The only thing I like more than holding a martini is grudges.” A passing waiter told her how beautiful she was. “Sometimes I get so sick of talking about love and sex, and I want to write a style book about what you like.”
She listed what she liked after ordering steak fries, medium. “Freda Salvador shoes, La Colombe coffee. Well done, not E!. Charlotte Tilbury eyeliner in emerald green. Those Jonathan Adler ceramics that say things like “Quaaludes.” And I hate mayonnaise with a passion.
In her book, she writes candidly about love and parenthood, but also about sexual harassment, trying to get a script made in Hollywood and her decision to have a child alone at age 37 using a sperm donor.
“You have control over your finances, your style, your dating. …” But conceiving a baby alone? “You can’t do it. You feel so hopeless and so trapped in your own life. want is some hope that it is possible. Now that she has done it successfully, she will tell aging single women she just met that she can help them get pregnant by them themselves.
“I dated online while I was pregnant. I would say, ‘By the way, I’m a bit pregnant,'” she said. “I dated early in my pregnancy and also while I was showing. I loved having huge porn star tits.
Reactions were mixed. “Some guys were like, ‘I love it, it’s not for me, but you rock.’ A guy was a star on one of my favorite TV shows at the time, it was like, ‘How dare you’,” she said. “He wasn’t worth another second of my weather.”
She stopped dating when she was six or seven months old, “when I got uncomfortable and tired and wanted to order Thai food and watch ‘Friday Night Lights’.”
When Hazel was a baby, Ms Shelasky decided to return to online dating, saying in her profile that she was “a single mother in a very simple situation”. She met Mr. Russell, who legally adopted Hazel and is River’s father. “I have a negative interest in being married and yet I want to be with him forever,” she said. “I guess I have traditional values that I can’t fight.”
She still has no contact with this British woman from the playground. Not that she’s desperate for company right now. “The Friends Shop is open, but by appointment only,” she said with a laugh. “I’m a very independent person and I need a lot of space, so the rare times I’m not with my kids, do I want to be with a mum friend or do I want to be only ?” she says. “Alone time is the greatest luxury when you’re a parent.”
She called an Uber on her phone. Her nightly routine is to take a hot bath, take a candy to sleep, and walk naked from the tub straight to bed. But it was a little more difficult in the country. “I know nothing will happen to me, but I am a writer with a wild imagination.”