Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Travel writing

My Kindle battery died during a wonderful Walk in the Woods with Bill Bryson, and instead of trying to read a PDF book on my laptop (my laptop is annoyingly old, and the battery no longer works, so I tend to think of it like our family's first VCR, which had a wired -- not wireless -- "remote". I use the word "remote" in quotes because it was more like a really, really close. Only unlike that VCR, I still have to use this laptop), I picked up Eat Love Pray again.

As a person who's now a self-imposed-on-you travel writer, I'm looking at a whole new genre I never really paid much attention to before: of course, travel writing. Even though it's become almost a cliche now, I very much enjoyed Eat Love Pray when I first read it a couple of years ago. And, to be honest, the movie as well. I read the book as part of a mom's book club, and I always remember the woman who led the book club saying she didn't believe the book was a real memoir because who wouldn't just TELL their husband what she wanted (assuming, in her way, that then it would be so). I instantly felt sorry for her husband, but I didn't expect to learn a lot about myself through the book, and I didn't that first time.

Today, I came to the part about each city having a word that describes it. And Elizabeth Gilbert concludes that she'll feel at home where her word matches the city's word. What a fun game. One of the characters asks, What is your town's word? What's your family word? STRENGTH, I think immediately. In my family, strength is everything.

But then my thoughts turned to the only city in which I have ever truly felt at home, and a different word pressed itself on me so immediately and so crushingly, I could have been Kevin Bacon sitting alone in a darkened movie theater.

Instantly, the tears and emotion, the exhaustion, of that word overwhelmed me. I realized my family word -- my word -- is not STRENGTH, but ENDURE.

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