My own “Eat, Pray, Love”, but not really

by Andrew Stein

When I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” a couple months before leaving on this trip, it wasn’t hard for me to find some parallels between her adventures and what mine were hopefully going to become. Some of the more obvious ones include that we both would go to Indonesia and Italy, and I planned to meditate at a monastery. And I do not doubt that by the time I complete my journey, there will probably be other similarities I could draw.

Unfortunately and fortunately, our starting points were a little different. My trip would have probably been a bit different if I had been given a substantial publisher’s advance. I feel that this is almost like cheating because I feel that the budgeting that took place to make my trip a reality began well before I ever started planning and will continue after the trip is past. Budgeting was one of my bigger challenges because with enough money, the possibilities become almost endless. The part where I feel fortunate in our differences is that I am not divorced nor have ever been married, and I am not unhealthily off and on with someone as she describes her David.

Some similarities that I’m hoping for include having the opportunity to gorge on delicious food in Italy. I want to find that pizza that even though it falls apart when barely picked up, it doesn’t matter because it is so delicious when you finally get it to your mouth. I want to eat some meals overflowing with seafood and others that include so much pasta that I don’t even have room for dessert, which when the time comes I’m sure I can find a little left over space. After all, that’s why I’ve been told we have two stomachs—one big one for dinner and another even bigger one for dessert.

When I meditate, I wouldn’t mind experiencing some sort of similar meditative transcendence that Liz does, but I would happy with just being able to sit still for several hours without moving. This alone will be a great feat. And although I plan to go to a monastery where talking is against the rules, I hope to at some point in the trip meet my own Richard from Texas. I want to meet someone who makes me feel despite all that might be going on that everything is going to end up okay, someone who always has something positive to say even if it might feel a little backhanded, and someone who will listen to my stories and offer his two cents. I do need to make sure, though, not to end up with a nickname as bad as “Groceries”.

For the “Love” part of the book, the part that took place in Indonesia, where Liz finds her Brazilian lover, I feel I have to keep my mind open and see what happens. When I was talking to my grandma a couple months ago and we were discussing my plans for this trip, she had two tokens of advice that remain clearly in mind. First is to be safe and second is to find a nice Jewish girl. Both are very grandma-like things to say, and I’m not sure which of the two is more grandma-like. And I know that she will be happy with any girl that I’m happy with because of my many cousins (her grandchildren), several have married other Jews and several have not, and she loves all of her grandchildren-in-laws dearly.

So I guess in terms of this trip being my own version of “Eat, Pray, Love”, only time can tell. And in terms of me endorsing this book, I do admit to enjoying it, but only to the extent that I would visiting similar places and doing similar activities. I feel I may have liked it more knowing that I was about to embark on my own tale, and had the book not included so much about Liz’s inability to move on from her divorce and bouts with depression, I may have really enjoyed this book. I’m probably just jealous that I didn’t get a substantial advance on my own travel journal.