Elizabeth Gilbert starts by painting her us her hell – she hit rock bottom. Her career, marriage, and self respect were in shambles and she spends 100 pages navigating us through her self loathing. I’ll admit – I found her tale of despair irritating, 90% of her woes were related to her attitude of the situation - I wanted to punch her for whining about it. Now, I idolize strong willed, outspoken, brazen women. Not whiners. But I kept reading. Not sure why but I did.
She divides the book into three parts from there on. She takes 3 trips over the next year to help patch her self esteem though self discovery, gastronomic escapism, and travel. It didn’t help hush the Maureen Dowd in me, when I found out that in the cesspool of her plight she was getting an advance for a book about her journey. Of course she’s going to find serenity - she’s going to get paid for it. But I found myself still reading the darn thing.
Off she goes to Italy for four months. Now this part I loved. She took one of my dream vacations - learning to study Italian in Rome for 4 months - what’s not to love? As she describes the food, the men, the culture, my guard starts to melt. A part that sticks out was a conversation she had with her delicious Italian tutor. He makes the case that- if you could deduce Rome to one word, it would be Sex, New York: Success. As she scrambles to find her word - I can’t help but try to think of mine Flexible? Family? Mouthy? Brash? I couldn’t find my word. That was 3 months ago. I put the book down and had to focus on other things - work, more work, and coordinating the holidays.
Then while I was packing for our vacation to the Dominican I threw 4 months worth of magazine subscriptions (the news related ones are the only ones I have time to keep current with: Economist, The Week, Atlantic, etc) and in case that wasn’t enough I tossed in Eat Pray Love.
Literally walking off the plane from a week whirlwind in San Diego for the holidays, changing suitcases after work, and walking back onto the plane I realized the last time I had some quality alone - hands free time was on our cruise. That was in August. While sitting on the planes I’ve been working out my 2010 strategy (I don’t do resolutions - I strategize,) I realized I have put a lot of things on hold - my grad school application, my fitness program , my blog, - hell just cooking has been shelved and my waistline serves as a reminder. Maybe that’s why I picked EPL back up.
I left the magazines in my carry on and I rejoined Lizzy’s journey. I was still a little bitter about her weaknesses compassion is a strong suite for me -- sympathy is not. That is to say - I feel your pain - I can see your point, but I don’t feel bad for you. But I kept reading.
She introduces a friend she makes - a Texas man who has the bluntness of Helen Thomas and the charm of Clint Eastwood. I like him. Lizzy wails over losing her soul mate and he calls her out on it – one point for Texas. But in holding up mirror to her face, metaphorically speaking, he makes a really write-that-down point: he says very few people meet their soul mate - and even fewer stay with them. Their purpose is not to complete you - but to open your soul to the ability to love deeply. If that’s the case - time to change the e-harmony profile. I’m only half kidding.
I’m glad I kept reading and I have to be honest - I say this begrudgingly - I liked the book. I love her writing style - writing as if we’re girlfriends. Heck I called her Lizzy all through this post. Maybe it’s her writing, maybe, and I hated to admit it, I identified with her. But more importantly I was moved by the journey.