I have an addiction. I guess as addictions go it is not altogether a bad one; at least I am not haunting the back streets searching for my next hit (not that I couldn’t, I just don’t). I just go online and order it up anytime I fancy, and the postman delivers it to my door.
My addiction? Memoirs written by women; in particular, memoirs with a self help slant. The types where some middle aged white woman travels the world to find herself; a little Elizabeth Gilbert, but usually older (okay, my age). They decide to spend a year finding happiness, calmness, or themselves (who are there all along, standing just behind their shoulder throughout the whole journey, what a surprise!).
I don’t really understand why I am addicted to this genre, as while I enjoy them, I feel a constant tug at my thoughts. Two things in particular haunt me. One, it is always upper middle class white women of usually independent means, or rich supportive husbands who abandon hearth and home to discover that life is wherever you are. If someone has ever read of a poor indigenous/African/black/Asian single mother who managed this feat I would love to read the story! I could find myself if I could stare at a cone shell on a faraway beach too if I had oodles of money – if my guilt gene was first removed too.
These women always write that they read this book by so and so, or whosemacallit, and lo, they just happened to be nearby, or lo, they jumped on a plane and flew right to Paris and on the off chance phoned them and lo, they said come on around, and they discussed the meaning of life for three days straight before setting off on a Nepalese trek to a hermit cave, where lo (I do love my los) they could mediate for hours on end without their mind wandering even once as to how their birkin bag made it unscathed to the mountain top on the back of a llama.
I know if I tried such a trick the phone would be slammed down so fast my eardrums would hum. Darken their door – well, restraining orders come to mind first. No little llamas to lead me to nirvana, I’d be trucking my Target backpack all the way on my little own back. All the way back home once the border guards released me, that is!
The other type of memoir I fall for is the tree change. The city slicker who buys 90 acres on a whim one autumn afternoon and decides to raise goats and truffles ten miles from town. Oh, life is a hoot as those damn goats eat her Stella McCarthy one off designs that she has hung artfully over a string line (cue photos of elegantly pinned floral items) not to speak of the night she has to have a cold shower, but all turns right when the tall dark handsome country stud with his independent ways arrives on the scene to tune her engine. Cue happy ever after a life of gourmet farmers markets selling to their city slicker friends who marvel that a goat can be so cute and give milk at the same time!
These are things I do not wish for. I don’t want 90acres to care about, I don’t want goats and most of all I don’t want city visitors, but I can’t help myself. My addiction must be fed.
Right now I am spending a year with a woman whose rich invisible husband has no qualms as his wife meditates herself around the globe, and somehow makes her mother’s Alzheimer’s about her. We are finding calm together, apparently. One side of my brain is yelling “Oh for God’s sake you self-indulgent, whinging, whimp” while the other side of my brain is loving every word (particularly the rich invisible husband). I can’t help myself.
After that I will be spending a year by the sea, swimming the wild waves and collecting sea glass as a metaphor for my existence until I find my inner self (once again, where it was all the time, but now released by a fat book deal arranged by friends I meet on a sand dune one winter’s noon).
Addicted? Main lining, baby. Jealous? You bet your little La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX® hiking shoes. I guess that some are there those but to do and write, and others are left to read and wonder how far she can get on $3.85 and a long weekend.