“The Visitor” is a true story from journalist Dodai Stewart. On NYE, I stumbled upon it looking for something quick to hit my book goal. Once I began, I realized I’d rather savor it. I finished the audiobook while walking my pup on New Year’s Day.
The story is a poignant musing on the idea of love. She explains how she grew up in New York. She loves how cinematic living in the city can be. Everything seems full of promise and glamor, especially when you run into actors on the street. She recounts filming locations and how she got to spend time in museums. Her family made an effort to travel every year too. In the present-day of this story, she is 29 and single. She works at a magazine and does freelance writing. Her job gets her into exclusive screenings and interviewing music artists. She has friends at local bars who hook her up with free food, which comes in handy with how expensive NYC is. But in between these fabulous nights, she lives in a tiny studio apartment. She often goes out and comes home alone. Desperate for love with a capital L, she logs onto Nerve.com. She strikes up a chat with a flowery profile that attracts a handsome stranger named Marco. Even tho he lives in San Francisco, there’s something about his reply. In a matter of weeks, they bond over long emails and texts. Although it feels rash, she decides to meet him in LA. They fall hard for each other despite living a country apart. The story explores the highs and lows of their long-distance relationship. With humor mixed with soul-searching commentary, she realizes you can’t expect love to conquer all on its own. It’s more complicated, especially if you’re unsure of what love should or can be.
As most people are reflecting on 2023 today, this novel made me reflect on what it was like to be 29. I also reminisced about my short stint living in NYC when I last used online dating in earnest. The story explains her yearning for a companion that I could relate to. Similar to Dodai, I often go to events on my own and come home to an empty apartment. Except this year, now I get doggo cuddles. Still, it would be nice to have someone to share a meal with or be that plus one. Through the story, she spotlights how when looking for “The One”, you need to know (or have a general sense) of what matters to you. A potential partner has to be remotely on a similar trajectory. I respected the vulnerability of discussing whether she over-romanticized things. She questions whether she is the problem, which even non-Swifties can understand.
The story ultimately made me grateful for my NY escapades. It reaffirmed my hope for love and gave me a renewed appreciation for my single freedom. I knew I was gonna love this story since I’ve been a fan of her writing ever since reading her Jezebel.com pieces. These days, she writes for many prestigious outlets like The New York Times. She recently did a lovely piece on The Ripped Bodice’s new Brooklyn store, which led to my phone blowing up with notifications since I manage their account. I can’t believe I missed this Amazon Original short story from 2019. The audiobook is narrated by the author, so the story feels immediate. I would love to read a romance novel from her.
Read this if you loved the show Felicity and looking for an existential look at dating.