September 06, 2006
I've been reading a wonderful memoir about a woman who, after a horrible divorce and devastating love affair, decided to seek meaning in her life, setting off to Italy, India and Indonesia for a year.
She titled her book Eat, Pray, Love. I immediately felt simpatico with this writer's fall from grace: "Wow, I used to curl up in the bathroom corner of my fancy house to cry in the middle of the night too. Cool!" What I like best about the author Elizabeth Gilbert is that she understands that humor and pain often hold hands under the table.
It set me to thinking what I would call my memoir. I think that Drink, Shop, Run would be my title. I have never understood women in crisis who take a quart of Rocky Road ice cream or trough of Kraft macaroni and cheese to bed. Comfort food has never comforted me. Yet my trusty cosmopolitan or Veuve Clicquot hold no more valor.
The proper atmosphere has proven just as important as the drink so subsequently I have had cocktails in some of the most beautiful settings in the world from rooftop hotel bars in Manhattan to street side cafes in Paris to Tiki huts in Hawaii, not to mention every pretty sunset spot, bar or beach, on the East End. But the task of my trusty companion is to allow me not to feel. The thought of sitting, like Elizabeth did, in an ashram with only my thoughts is my definition of cruel and unusual. Like an errant dog with no sense, when let loose my thoughts just run right into oncoming traffic.
My belief in shopping is something akin to Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters — if you build the wardrobe, the life for which it can be worn will come. I bought a feathered black halter gown for a great black tie event, the supplest suede pants perfect for Aspen firesides, and enough lingerie to seductively outfit an entire harem.
The casual culture, especially here in the Hamptons, however, has foiled my plans, along with the mistaken motto to buy clothes at one's skinniest. Perhaps shopping is an attempt to create an illusion of confidence and affluence when inside I'm mired in impoverishment. People don't suspect inner crumbling when a woman's shoes match her pocketbook.
The last word in the title is the hardest as love is both a verb and a noun. I thought of waffle to indicate my inability to firmly decide in which direction to go but then also thought it might indicate a breakfast food issue. Fear would be the polar opposite of love, and in Spirituality 101 the wrong end of the spectrum from which to make decisions even though I've made a few from there. Run works because you can both run away from something and run towards something, the trick being to know the difference. Although in no sense of the word am I a jogger —the unattractive bras just preventing me from feeling good about the sport.
Write is the word we both should include in our title. Where the author and I converge is in our intrinsic belief that writing about the experience in and of itself is the answer. If we spent all day eating, shopping, drinking and praying, not necessarily in that order, there would be no novel or column. If you have the courage to be brutally honest about your life and put it on the page then you transform yourself and hopefully a reader somewhere. And best of all, after you make them cry, maybe you can make them laugh.
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