I want to start this blog with the book that focused all this effort in the first place. Eat Pray Love marked the rebeginning of friendship and honesty for me after a nearly disastrous backsliding into fear and self-loathing.
With a bit of dismay I admit I have not traveled to any of the countries Liz visited (although I have been to Israel, and as another "I" nation that might make a good starting place for a sequel someday). But I will.
What I immediately and lastingly liked about this book was her structural approach: beginning with the end (the 109th bead), dividing the book into three sets of thirty-six (108 is a great number) chapters, and her ability, amid all that structure, to allow coincidental and interconnected people and events to unfold and pour out. Freely.
Reading the book offered a numerologically cathartic experience. I'll save that for a later post, as it might be nice to get people into the room and happy to be talking before spilling everything I might think there is to think about it.
It was suggested to me by a dear friend with whom I recently reconnected. We compared notes on our marital struggles, and talked a great deal about which feeling was more powerful - the urge to go or the need to stay. Needless to say, arriving so quickly at page 10, "I don't want to be married anymore," read like a splashing bucket of cold water. It was unsettling (and coincidental, maybe...) enough to hook me (although opening with 108 already had me).
That said, let's start with Italy. I found her stay intensely pleasurable to read about, albeit less impactful than later sections. The most striking sequence for me was the Thanksgiving dinner, on pages 108-109 (naturally). Liz wants to say everything she's feeling about the weight the dinner has lifted from her life, but all she can muster is Italian: sono grata. Why is it that words in foreign languages can take on more meaning than their English equivalent? Is it the effort of translating in your head? The tacit admission that "my native words aren't good enough for my nascent emotions?"
About my friend who gave me this book: we had hurt each other in the past, and hadn't spoken in nearly fifteen years when we reconnected. How easy it was to skip past small talk into the what's important voice with which we used to speak to each other. We forgave each other, spilled stories about emotional stuggle, and thanked each other for "being here," as we'd put it. Present. In the life of the other, despite the geographical obstacles. "Sono grata" came off the page, and through me right to her.
In response, she pointed out Luca's words, "Your tears are my prayers." It reminded me of a time when I was noticing how many years it had been since I'd had a real, hard, full-bodied cry. In my head, I was calling it an "orgasm in the heart." In a sense, I was praying for my own tears. The next day, I received them - although they were someone else's. A near stranger, who'd read something I'd posted on a forum, felt she had to let me know how it made her feel. That is indeed another story, but it was an act of gratitude on the part of the shedder to let me know that my words had found a place. Liz' Thanksgiving experience bound up tears and gratitude in a way that echoed my renewed friendship. The idea that giving thanks would undoubtedly bring more for which to feel thankful.
Appropriately, I finished the book just a few days before Thanksgiving, and as the wave of New Year's reflection, resolution, and planning breaks, I'll take this opportunity to thank you for reading and posting here. Benvenuto!