I was warned.
“It’s a really great literary read, but it’ll make you question your relationship and feel hateful towards men,” Ashley said when she loaned me The Paris Wife.
Cue up last night’s meltdown about my relationship…
We spent most of September out of synch. No surprise as this month holds the big back-to-school transition for H with my new job still unsettled. We have no routine. Add on him being sick for 10 days and my boss’ boss making a last minute trip to LA and you have a crapshoot of a month.
For most of that time, I escaped with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The thick paperback shot me back to being 15, reading John Grisham and Michael Critchon, hiding in my teenage room. It was a detailed, quick- moving read, where I bought into the characters just enough, but I wasn’t left panicked as they navigated crazy situations. It was light on the emotional ties – the perfect escape.
Escaping came up even stronger as I read Mae Chevrette’s blog and now the little voice inside keeps saying “road trip”. And again with all the e-courses starting soon, urging me to connect my words & heart & camera. It trickled in as I heard a girl talk about visiting Portland, and a guy talk about Alaska. My trip to Boston can’t come soon enough, even if it is for work.
Some of you are probably thinking, “When is she going to write about her meltdown?” but as I’m writing this I’m realizing, it’s not the point.
The point is the same, always. When I blame H for not “caring” or not “giving me enough attention”, it’s really ME so frustrated with MYSELF that I can’t place the blame correctly. Surely, I can’t be breaking my own heart that terribly…but I am.
Writing this now, I can feel the surge to create, the need to express myself, the want for acknowledgement, freedom, time to think and be. So, it’s not The Paris Wife or even my love relationship that’s the problem, but my own self-constraints, like having a joyous kid, all dressed up, singing show tunes, and their parent saying nothing but, “Go do your homework”.
OK, it does have a little to do with my relationship. He doesn’t get off scotch-free, but after a teary talk I’m feeling better.
These would not be the first books to influence my being. Usually the influence shows up in my food cravings first. Both My Life in France and Julie and Julia made me crave croissants and lattes, with the first book hinting at extra butter and the second, lots of wine. Even TGWTDT made me crave coffee and sandwiches. It also made me want a project I could sink my time into and a cabin to escape to just to write. And snow. It made me miss snow.
And that’s why I can never answer the question, “What book changed your life?” because every book is my life, in some line or memory or experience. They have emotional holds on me that I can’t describe, some innate blueprint that becomes stamped on my condition, some tiny wave of serendipity that courses through my fate. My life’s themes of the past 6 weeks – isolation, communication, care-taking, things in flux, work/life balance, urge to road trip, take pictures, make art, and that raw tinge of abandonment – line up perfectly with my reading: Super Sad True Love Story, then TGWTDT and now The Paris Wife.
With all of that said, I’m sure The Paris Wife will still make my stomach do romantic flips and then dredge up issues I have around marriage, cheating and art, but if that’s not a reason to read – to have our own stories, assumptions and feelings reflected back to us – then I don’t know what is.
Here’s to seeing what else this book has to teach me.