Monday, August 07, 2006

Run, don't walk

So I have started to read “Eat, Pray, Love,” and you must run, not walk, to find it and start it and devour it. It is about a year this woman, the author, spent in Italy, India and Indonesia. Then again, perhaps it is so much a book I wished I'd written, about a year I wish to live, about revelations I am having and hope to have, that it seems to me to be the best, most perfect book, but perhaps it won't seem that way to you. And you'll wonder what the hell I am thinking, that I think this book should replace the bible in every hotel room. But I do.

Do you find that some books are narrated by someone you wished were your friend, who could be your friend? I remember reading “Good in Bed,” by Jennifer Weiner, and thinking by the fourth page (in case the first three pages were just some fluke) that this woman, this writer, this storyteller, should be in my book group. I KNEW her, her way with words, her tone, her inflection, her diction. I knew her sense of humor (damn her, funnier than I ever am). I remember reading this book slower and slower, because she was so much fun to hang out with; at the same time I was reading it faster and faster – she was such great company, I couldn't help myself. I remember saying "S#$%!" on the last page - because it was a perfect last page and because the story was over and because I missed her already. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” should also be in my book group. And going out for drinks with us. And on the other end of the phone when I’m having a meltdown.

“Eat, Pray, Love” feels like a 300 page letter to the principal explaining that G will not be in school today because she has to go follow her heart, listen to her spirit, pray to God. In fact, it is not clear when or if G will be coming back to school, as this trip is much more important and instrumental to her well-being, as well as perhaps to her growth, but growth is besides the point of happiness.

I am not so much reading this book as swimming in it, breathing it, sweating it out my pores. It makes me see my trip to Bali as if I were just putting my toe in the water -- is the temperature okay? Can I actually swim? Can I make it out to that little island that looks so far away? I knew I needed a break, and yet, at the same time, I had all these rules and regulations in my head: I can take a 'short' break. When I get back I'll 'buckle down.' A breather is okay, but then I'd better get serious. A vacation is okay - but not a major detour in my 'life path.' For crying out loud, who knows what my life path is? I sure don't. And frankly, I'm sort of tired of pretending I do.

This book, and Liz, the writer, is a giant 'get out of jail free' pass - she's a writer (hey, I'm a writer), she doesn't want what she's 'supposed' to want (I don't know what I want, but I'm learning to recognize what I don't). Most of all, it seems to me, Liz decided to take a journey, not to get somewhere, but to GO somewhere. (What a concept. Truly.) She took the luxury of attempting to talk to herself, and listen to herself, and ended up having the most wonderful conversations.

That's how the book reads to me - a record of the conversation she had with herself during this year she spent with I, in countries beginning with I (an irony pointed out, I must confess, by her early on in the book). And it makes me realize how long it has been, if ever, that I have had such a conversation with myself, let alone an ongoing dialogue with the one who should be my biggest fan and best friend.

And I haven't even gotten to her months in Bali yet; we're still in Rome, eating and learning to speak Italian. Which, all in all, is a fine old way to spend four months.

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