I have just finished reading two completely different, yet strangely complimentary books: Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves and Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.
Wanderlust is a story of a women who has an insatiable lust for travel and she spends her 20’s and 30’s travelling to the ends of world, searching for adventure and love. Her travel stories were fascinating; made me want to travel more on one level, but her experiences with love never really sat well with me. She found love – in each and every place she travelled, but jumped from lover to lover, not really being commmitted to anyone, occasionally feeling a tinge of guilt, but generally felt following her desires and her hunger for love superceded any commitment or loyalty she had to anyone. In fact, in the end she questions the purpose of fidelity and if she can ever really find satisfaction in one relationship. She thinks being with one man would be the equivalent of never being able to see another country again. It would be a too much of a sacrifice. She also lives with one of the “paybacks of infidelity” as she puts it: “being untrustworthy makes me suspicious that others are too”. And you can’t have a relationships without trust. So she continues leading a double life; having different partners depending on where she is in life. In the end, she breaks it off with all her men and goes back to her roots to start another adventure.
It was an interesting take on relationships.
It was actually quite sad to read.
I related to the desire to travel (although my travel needs aren’t quite so exotic and primitive; I do like luxury:), but I did not relate to her take on relationships; like they were temporary, situational, disposable. I kept thinking she felt this way because she just had never found the right man. Perhaps though, she was never the right woman either.
The second book, Everyone is Beautiful, is also about a woman who is trying to find herself; or reclaim herself after having given birth to 3 sons and feeling herself being slowly absorbed into motherhood. In this story, she doesn’t travel anywhere, but joins a gym, and finds a passionate hobby. In the midst of trying to find herself, she somehow loses touch with her husband.
This story started off as a typical story: mid life Mom tries to find herself. I was expecting her to join the gym, sign up for yoga, leave her husband, pierce her nose, get a tatoo and start shopping at Guess Jeans. Typical mid life crisis Mom. Sorry – a little stereotypical I know – but true to my observations. However, she does find herself and in the end, she finds her husband too – and falls in love with her existing life again. Near the end of the book, she kisses her husband of many years and says, “I realized that nothing about the kiss could have been as good if I didn’t know Peter (her husband) backward and forward and inside out…. If we didn’t know each other precisely that well, and hadn’t been disappointed and dismayed time and time again, and breathed each other’s breath, and become so woven into every minute of each other’s lives and even come to take each other for granted in the way that only you can when you’ve seen years and years of day in and day out, it wouldn’t have been the same”.
Such a drastic difference: a woman who can never be satisfied by one man; who needs to have a different man in each country so she does not get bored, so she can keep falling in love over and over again and keep the passion alive.
And then a woman who finds that she can fall in love over and over again with a man who knows her inside and out, watching him do the same things over and over. The payoff for all the routine and mundane-ness that often follows marriage, as she puts it was “intimacy – something you could not buy, or pick up at bar or have a one night stand with. Something you could earn only by putting in the man hours”.
I finished book 1 feeling a little unsettled. I finished book 2 with a smile; I guess some may say I am looking through rose coloured lenses. In the age where mid life equals crisis, where long term marraige must equal boredom, it was nice to read an ending where the people do stay together and are stronger and happier for it. It was nice to read about a woman who can find herself within the context of her exisitng life; that she can still be an individual and a Mother. The two are not mutually exclusive as I think sometimes society tries to get us to believe. That she can still be exciting and passionate to others around her – but especially to her husband. You don’t have to throw your whole life away to find yourself and start from scratch. Sometimes the very best adventure starts in your own home. You just have to look for it within your home.