When Kristin Cavallari posted her latest snap to Instagram Aug. 4, Laguna Beach fans the world over had the same collective reaction: Stephen? Steepheeennn?!
It wasn't just that the newly single lifestyle mogul had her arms draped around her former high school sweetheart Stephen Colletti, her costar on the early 2000s MTV obsession, or that the exes had the look of two coconspirators sharing in a delicious secret. It was also the winking, intentionally vague caption, the onetime reality TV villain writing, "2004 or 2020?!"
In the spotlight since MTV producers singled out the high school junior, her then-boyfriend and their circle of pals to portray what they were marketing as the real Orange County (a nod to Fox's can't miss teen drama, The O.C.), Cavallari is certainly savvy enough to know the sort of chatter such a cozy picture would spark. Some 550,000 double-tapped to show their appreciation, more than a few of them—including fellow network standouts Snooki and Angelina Pivarnik—taking to the comment section to reiterate that they were here for this re-coupling.
As Cavallari's pal Steph Biegel effectively summed up, "This. is. EVERYTHING."
Well, not everything. The post was not, in fact, an announcement that the 33-year-old is rekindling things with her teenage ex, a source telling E! News, "They are not dating."
But it certainly is a sign that the Uncommon James founder is rebounding quite nicely from her April split with husband of nearly seven years, Jay Cutler. While the retired NFL quarterback, 37, has taken himself out of the game, deleting his Instagram account shortly after Cavallari's throwback Tuesday, the cookbook author has returned to her true roots, giving us all a glimpse at her life.
She's filling her days with work—'gramming her May 26 return to the UJ offices and prepping for the September release of her second collection of recipes, True Comfort— and tending to her "tribe": sons Camden, 8, and Jaxon, 6, and daughter Saylor, 4.
And she's finding time for nights with her squad. Months after their unintentional March quarantine getaway in the Bahamas, Cavallari's hairstylist bestie Justin Anderson remains her number one, the pals bunking up before the designer moved into her new $5 million Nashville digs. "We've been together for the entire quarantine time," she shared in a May Instagram Live chat, "literally from day one."
Trips out west have afforded her the chance to catch up with other pals, too. "Kristin was excited to have a getaway in Los Angeles," a source tells E! News of her June excursion, "and it's been a fresh breath of air to be able to go out and see her friends." That includes Colletti, the duo meeting up during Cavallari's most recent vacation to southern California.
As for the other man in Cavallari's life, she and Cutler seem to have found their conscious uncoupling footing, trading heartfelt sentiments on Mother's Day and Father's Day. The former Chicago Bears leader even gave her upcoming cookbook a plug, in a July Instagram story, calling the dishes "taste tested and approved."
Though an insider predicts it could take them awhile to sort through the details of their divorce, they've already untangled one potentially knotty issue, each agreeing to a week-on, week-off shared custody arrangement. "Modern family? Co-parenting?" Cavallari wrote in her Father's Day tribute. "Whatever you want to call it, we are navigating it the best way we know how."
They've already proven to be quick studies, a source telling E! News they are "in a much better place" than in the still-painful weeks immediately following their April divorce announcement. "Everything has definitely settled between them and there is less tension."
Still left are heaps of hope for the future that lies ahead. "She is doing much better and seems to be very happy," continues the source. "Kristin knows this is the right choice for her family and she is excited for a fresh start."
Of course, she's not the only one staring at a blank page before her...
With such a major Laguna reunion taking place (well, two, actually, Cavallari also meeting up with Alex Murrel Johnson during her current California trip), now feels like a good time to check in with both the OG cast and the onetime Les Deux frequenters from the initial run of The Hills. Here's what they've written so far.