If you have a vagina and are kind of hippy-dippy, chances are you will probably enjoy this book. I’ve devoured it with great relish over the past day and a half. I picked it up in one of my BFF’s bedroom while I was waiting to go to dim sum the other morning. It was given to her as a gift from another BFF. It has a little price sticker on it in pounds, so I guess she must have bought it in England somewhere. How appropriate that this book has been passed on hand to hand (I was going to write “vagina to vagina,” but that is a little too reminiscent of that line from “Me, You and Everybody We Know.” If you’ve seen that movie, you should know what I’m talking about). The cover proudly boasts a quote from Julia Roberts of all people, exclaiming “It’s what I’m giving all my girl friends” in elegant red cursive. (there’s also a rave from Minnie Driver, but really, who cares about her?)
This is the kind of book I would expect to be enthusiastically praised by sources such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s website. I am very sorry to say that in a fit of interest last December, I signed up for the weekly newsletter. Now, there’s been a lot written about this stupid website. What interests me is not so much what it says about this weird alien blond creature, but more what my interest in it says about me. I may not be qualified to give a stirring cultural analysis on the mindset of early-20’s females, but gosh darn it, I sure can blab about myself.
Anyway, so basically this book and this website appealed to me as escapist fantasies. It is so, so, nice–almost pornographic–to indulge in these things, to imagine oneself doing them. My BFF’s favorite part of the book is the first section, where Gilbert is in Italy, pigging out on pasta, pizza and all those wonderful carbs. But my favorite part of the book is the middle section, where she’s in an ashram in India, mainly because it sounds so foreign and strange to me (which is not to say that I’mm pigging out on carbs all the time–I wish!). It’s just so appealing. It makes me think, “Damn! I wish I had the money to buy a ticket to India and the time to live in an Ashram and the mindset and capacity to meditate so much!” Yoga has loosened up my hamstrings enough so that I can touch my toes, and that’s pretty much it. On that same note, Maybe I’m just strange, but I really enjoy reading Gwynie’s recommended recipies for her post-Christmas fast/cleanse and her favorite workout exercise videos. It makes me think “Damn! I wish I had the time and the money to buy almond milk and miso soup and all those other crazy ingredients, and work out that much and do all those crazy ridiculous butt crunches where I’m kicking out my legs behind me and boy, does that exercise look like it would really hurt my knee.”
I guess on one hand it’s nice that my fantasies are of doing hippy dippy stuff (like cleanses and intense meditation retreats), as opposed to, I dunno, buying shoes. It just makes me feel good, you know? I loved sinking into this book and Gilbert’s funny, witty, wise tone and her amusing anecdotes like a warm fuzzy blanket. This book came along for me at the exactly right time in my life, much in the same way as Melissa Banks’ The Wonder Spot. I remember reading Banks lying on my stomach in my bed in England, post-breakup, and reading chapter after chapter and just nodding “mm-hmm–been there, done that.” My sister underlined several passages in pencil and wrote “That’s me” for some particularly eerily parallel scenes. The same thing happenned to me with EPL: it’s just creepy how Gilbert writes about some of the exact same things that I’ve experienced, specifically in the quest for inner peace, fufillment, stability, strength, and all those other good strong-sounding one-syllable words.
I remember finishing TWC, closing it and then sitting up and feeling if not exactly compeltely healed, at least a little more than before (Steve Martin’s Shopgirl was also a most unexpected big stepping stone in the heart healing process for me). And then taking out my journal and writing it down: I feel better. That’s the same feeling that Eat Pray Love gave me: it just made me feel better, having something so enjoyable to read on the Max, something that taught me about all these interesting things I’ve been wondering and thinking about lately, like yoga and ashrams and traveling in Asia and Eastern religions and all those other hippy dippy young adult quest things. Again, I repeat: if you have a vagina and are becoming increasingly hippy dippy in your old (young) adult age, you will probably find yourselve folding over page corners or underlining a lot of passages in this book, because they will more than likely really hit home for you.