After publishing her first book, The Dead are Gods, earlier this year, author and model Eirinie Carson was ready to take a breath. An elegiac memoir of her life with her best friend, Larissa, who tragically passed away five years ago, the book was praised by Oprah and People magazine. The format of the book flips between Carson directly addressing the reader and her lost friend—a structure she says, “kind of signifies that madness of grief, where you’re still talking to someone who just isn’t there to listen to you in the same way.”
This spring, Carson became a purveyor of grief stories with her new “Eirinie Asks” column in the Petaluma Argus-Courier, interviewing locals to draw out their experiences with loss. “When someone dies, there’s this conversation that suddenly stops, and no one’s answering anymore, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t still have the questions or that you don’t still want to talk to them.”
Carson, who was born in London, embraces that liminal space, surrounded by her Petaluma community, where she and her musician husband are raising two young children. “There’s something nice about grief not existing in this very sacred, untouched, pristine tomb,” she insists, at ease with a shift in conversation from mourning to restaurants to local hikes. Here are some of her family’s favorite spots.
In the 1990s, Carson’s husband’s band, AFI, used to play Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater, and the band has a single called “Days of the Phoenix.” 201 Washington St., Petaluma. 707-762-3566, thephoenixtheater.com
Carson gives rave reviews to the brunch and bottle shop at Valley Bar + Bottle as well as the friendly staff who “don’t make you feel like a dummy if you don’t know what wine to order.” 487 First St. W., Sonoma. 707-934-8403, valleybarandbottle.com
In Sebastopol, Carson likes to visit Bib Gourmand winner Khom Loi for Thai-inspired fare, and Muir’s Tea Room for their plant-based menu: “As a British person, I don’t know how they pulled off this wizardry.” Khom Loi, 7385 Healsdburg Ave., Sebastopol. 707-329-6917, khomloisonoma.com; Muir’s Tea Room, 330 S. Main St., Sebastopol. 707-634-6143, muirstearoomandcafe.com
Carson, an avid runner and hiker, likes to take her children on the Pinnacle Gulch Trail in Bodega Bay. The beach at the end of the trail has lovely tidepools to explore. 20600 Mockingbird Dr., Bodega Bay. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov
At Copperfield’s Books, Carson’s young daughters wander the children’s section, while Carson heads straight to the photography books. “I’ve been in the (modeling) industry too long, and I appreciate a good photo.” Her own book is on display here, too. 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma. 707-762-0563, copperfieldsbooks.com