When Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Eat Pray Love” first came out, I felt as if it had been written for me. I had just entered into my own Gilbertian phase post marriage, and I believed that I had found this book, and that it had found me. Reading about the author’s grief and depression in the aftermath of a brutal separation from her husband made me feel like I wasn’t the alien I thought I was. There was another woman out there who felt hopelessly out of her mind too. I was not alone.
One of my best friends was also divorced, and we quoted that book as if it were our bible. Soon after, the book caught on like wildfire, and everyone was talking about it. I had already begun to embark on my own little healing journey, and, like Gilbert, I had started writing my own kind of marriage in crisis novel, “The Virgin Wife” (except mine is fiction…insert air quotes here). But unlike Gilbert, my healing travels stretched from my apartment to the local bar, then back to my apartment to iChat my girlfriend, then back out to meet up with friends who tolerated my woe is me prattling (thanks again guys!). I had begun to become disenchanted with Gilbert’s tale, and the fact that because she was already a published author, she had been able to pre-sell her soul searching to Penguin Books, and use those earnings to travel and write some more. I wondered, how would she have coped if she had not been able to escape abroad? If she was forced to stay put, hold down a job, and risk running into her exes at the grocery, as I suspect the majority of women post divorce must do. I, for one, had no appetite for food or money for travel, and scowled at women with yoga mats. I was more in the “Can’t Eat, Won’t Pray, and Who the Fuck Needs Love” camp. I started to feel like an alien all over again.
When I completed the first draft of my novel, it dawned on me that each of us requires a different balm to heal our individual wounds. For me, the salve was writing a novel about a woman’s marriage before divorce, and for Gilbert, it was telling of its aftermath. For some women, maybe it’s poetry, or therapy, or road tripping, or.. tripping, or quickly remarrying, or meditation, or moving to another city and starting over. Or all of the above. I guess we all have to find “our thing.”
The movie is coming out on August 13, and I was waiting until then to blog on this subject and my thoughts on the book. But then today, after a visit to the farmer’s market, I walked by the perfume store “Fresh,” and stopped in my tracks when I learned that they’re doing a merchandising tie in with the book. What a strange partnership, I thought. Scents that smell like what, linguine? Unshowered ashram dwellers? Or, a depressed divorced woman? Ew! Hasn’t this whole Eat Pray phenomenon gone too far?
I was holding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers I had just bought (I’m not sure what they’re called, I just liked that they were purple), and paused for some reason to look at them again. It struck me that this flower and vase-buying pastime was new for me. I had started doing it recently; it brightened up my apartment and my day. Back when I was in a difficult place emotionally, I believed it wasteful to spend money on something that I knew was going to die in a just a few days. But now, I can enjoy their beauty and scent for as long as they last, until they fade. Because that works for me. Maybe that’s the purpose of the “Eat Pray Love” scents. Isn’t it true that perfume, when mixed with an individual’s skin, takes on a distinctly unique smell? Every scent smells different on everyone.
So I guess when it comes to scents – as with healing – the moral of this story is, to each his own.