Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert

February 18th, 2011

I accidentally read Eat, Pray, Love. Accidentally because I had no intentions of reading it and then my good friend Amy raved about it and made me promise I’d read it before I watched the movie. So I promised, grabbed the book at the airport the next morning, and a week later I finished the book.

I primarily read non-fiction. I like real, human stories that I can connect with. I like learning about other people’s lives in an incredibly intimate way. Their words to my eyes, that always seems so personal to me. I’m not sure how I hadn’t found my way to EPL any sooner, but now I’m so glad that I did.

My life in no way parallels that of Elizabeth Gilbert, the author. I’m madly in love with my husband and I like my little suburban-esque life. I don’t own a passport and hers is probably as thick as the Oxford Dictionary. I studied French and she prefers Italian. However, in so many ways I needed to hear her story. I was six months postpartum when I read Eat Pray Love and so bogged down in the chaos of my new role as mom that the lines between me-me, work-me, wife-me and mom-me were beginning to blur into an indecipherable fog. Reading Eat Pray Love helped me make it acceptable within myself to be all of these versions of me while individually nurturing the branches of myself. It may have also helped me find a little bit more purpose in my sporadic yoga practice.

When I learned that Liz Gilbert was visiting Wichita for a book tour promoting her new book Commitment, the must-read follow-up to Eat Pray Love that I recommend to anyone married, engaged, divorced, or thinking about marriage, I made sure to get tickets immediately.

Last night, I had the overwhelming privilege to attend Liz’s reading at WSU. I caught myself trying to fight back tears as she read a wonderful selection from Commitment and shared anecdotes about her life with Felipe and as an author. She was warm, funny, genuine, gracious, beautiful and wise. She had adorable little messy pigtails held in place by clippies, wore a sundress with leggings and a long-sleeved shirt underneath and tall black boots. She didn’t have on a drop of makeup, and she was gorgeous. She was gorgeous because she was completely comfortable in her own skin and in her sense of self. There’s a confident beauty in that, and while little of our lives parallels (I like good wine, she could care less), I like to think that I have a little of that too.

I asked her if she still speaks to Ketut, the medicine man she befriended during the “Love” portion of Eat Pray Love in Bali. She responded yes, and that her husband had actually seen him two days ago. (She laughed that the day she flew to Raleigh, he flew to Bali.) I also asked what she thought of the movie, and it wasn’t the canned PR answer I kind of expected. While I really didn’t care for the movie at all, mostly because it botched the ending and a few other details, she said that she didn’t think it was right for writers to take these big Hollywood checks and then complain about the movie. Overall she appeared to have liked it. She also raved about the hot guys who were cast to play the men, and spoke of how when she met Julia Roberts she was star-struck and all she could muster was “You’re pretty.” She said that when standing a foot away from Julia Roberts her beauty is striking and that if she weren’t a movie star, the only other career option that would be fitting would be as a fairy.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Eat Pray Love, I encourage you to make it the next addition to your nightstand. It’s a delicious book, almost literally, and it will feed your mind, your soul, and even a craving for a really good pizza.