‘Broad City’ star hits the road post-breakup

Mem­oir pleas­antly wan­ders and won­ders

The Capital - - SPORTS ON TV - By Jancee Dunn nope. Jancee Dunn’s lat­est book is “How Not To Hate Your Hus­band Af­ter Kids.”

Any­one who has had their heart bro­ken will rec­og­nize the emo­tional con­tours of Abbi Ja­cob­son’s post-breakup cross-coun­try road trip. There’s the brisk self-talk (“I’ll go where I want to go, buy what I want with the money I’ve earned, or­der what­ever take­out I want with dis­pro­por­tion­ate so­das”); there’s re­fur­bish­ment (“I should try med­i­ta­tion”); and there’s the base­less yet some­how plau­si­ble sus­pi­cion that an ex has not only moved on, but “her day-to-day is jam-packed with bound­less joy and she’s never felt more ful­filled or sat­is­fied.”

When Ja­cob­son — co-cre­ator and co-star of the tele­vi­sion hit “Broad City,” in which two 20some­thing “weed qweens” me­an­der to­ward adult­hood — finds her­self chron­i­cally over­worked and gut­ted from the dis­so­lu­tion of her first real re­la­tion­ship, she hits the road for three weeks. The re­sult is “I Might Regret This: Es­says, Draw­ings, Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and Other Stuff,” a sweetly wist­ful col­lec­tion that in­cludes her hand­drawn il­lus­tra­tions.

She ad­mits to no goal, save “find­ing time and space in which to be still and think.” And think she does. Head­ing to­ward Austin, Texas, she mulls over her sev­ered re­la­tion­ship with an un­named woman. “All the un­con­trol­lable smiles, the pings in my stom­ach . ... All the tuck­ing of hair be­hind ears, the singing along to ter­ri­ble songs in the car. The stupid danc­ing. And more laugh­ter. All the times she smiled.”

Ja­cob­son’s ef­forts to bol­ster her courage as she trav­els alone are touch­ing. She busily crafts to-do lists to es­tab­lish or­der, among them a “Rules of Con­duct”: “Do not listen to Bon­nie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’ Ever. Don’t even think about this song.” She fights her own in­ner nar­ra­tive that a man on a solo road trip is “viewed as a cool loner,” while a sin­gle woman alone is seen as pa­thetic.

She is also a keen so­cial ob­server. “I’m not a fan of ‘abruptly,’ as it’s al­most never a good thing,” she writes. “‘His cancer ended abruptly!’ ‘Then abruptly, they re­al­ized their love was meant to be!’ Nope, it’s al­ways bad.”

Older read­ers, how­ever, may feel like Gan­dalf the Grey when en­coun­ter­ing words like “any­ways,” or an ex­cur­sus into the joys of snail mail. “Even own­ing stamps seems bizarre these days,” she writes. “Imag­ine go­ing to grab brunch with friends, and some­one says, ‘Hold up a sec, I have to pop into the bodega and grab some stamps. Ev­ery­one would be like: ‘For what?’ ‘Bode­gas have stamps?’ ‘Also, what are stamps?’ ”

As Ja­cob­son con­tin­ues her jour­ney, her thoughts un­spool. She broods over past mis­takes, such as her in­dif­fer­ent treat­ment of her mother’s kindly post-di­vorce boyfriend, who died sud­denly of an aor­tic aneurysm when she was an “angsty teenager who never gave him the time of day.”

“Mem­o­ries fas­ci­nate me, how they gain or lose weight over time,” she writes. “Al­ways fluc­tu­at­ing, just like our bod­ies, be­com­ing lighter or heav­ier the more they need at­ten­tion.”

She also sur­veys her pro­fes­sional in­se­cu­ri­ties, which will be fa­mil­iar to many women: a re­luc­tance to cel­e­brate her suc­cesses, a fear of say­ing no, dis­com­fort with telling peo­ple that some­thing was not done cor­rectly (“there’s a quiet epi­demic of women tak­ing and ab­sorb­ing the blame for other peo­ple’s mis­takes, be­cause of some in­her­ent at­tribute deep in­side us, con­stantly try­ing not to be dif­fi­cult”). Like a road trip, the book wan­ders pleas­antly along. Ja­cob­son reads Su­san Son­tag es­says in Austin. She texts some­thing she has just seen to co-star Ilana Glazer as po­ten­tial ma­te­rial: “girl with flip-flops tucked into one strap of tank top.” She gets her aura read in Se­dona, Ariz. In Utah, she stands in a grassy field at night and stares at the stars.

Other mo­ments are more pedes­trian. One night, she draws her ho­tel shades and watches “My Best Friend’s Wed­ding.” (Her en­tirely rea­son­able ques­tion: How was Ju­lia Roberts’ char­ac­ter a re­spected and feared food critic by the age of 27?)

One of the mes­sages un­der­neath “Broad City’s” nim­ble slap­stick com­edy is that vul­ner­a­bil­ity is strength; it’s the mes­sage of this book as well. It’s not much of a spoiler to re­port that Ja­cob­son doesn’t come to any grand con­clu­sions but does find what she needs: the re­al­iza­tion that she is go­ing to be OK.

Ja­cob­son asks more ques­tions than she an­swers, which is as it should be. En route from Asheville, N.C., to Mem­phis, Tenn., she mulls over what she terms The Big Ques­tions. “Why does the pen they give you to sign the check or the im­por­tant doc­u­ment never work? Why does it work for them when they take it back and try it them­selves?” “Why do so many peo­ple hate women?” “Is there a point in time when you stop feel­ing like you’re eigh­teen?”

There’s an easy an­swer to that last one, any­way:


Abbi Ja­cob­son’s mem­oir fol­lows a three-week road trip she took af­ter the end of her first real re­la­tion­ship.

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