“Still in Rome.” She flipped the book over and looked at me. “Enjoying it?”
“Have you ever been to Bali?” she asked, handing her boarding pass to the agent manning the gate.
“No,” I said, slowing my pace so she could join me on the jetbridge. “Is it a place I should go?”
“Oh definitely. It’s lovely. In fact, I’m just now coming back from Bali. I used to live there. That’s why my daughter-in-law gave me this book. She thought I might relate.”
At row 14, I lifted my bag into the overhead bin, and asked, “Where are you seated?”
The woman hoisted her large plastic bag into the bin next to mine. “14 C,” she said, looking down at her ticket. “You?”
“14A!” I exclaimed. “Wow, that’s weird,” I said, because it was weird. First the cheese sandwich, then the book, and now the row. Could it get any weirder?
Yes, it could, I was soon to find out, because Millie had met a man in Bali who claimed to have found The Medicine man, as in the actual medicine man the character in the book is based on. Supposedly this man Millie had met while eating breakfast with her book resting on the table noticed her book and then told her he had found himself crammed in a room full of nothing but American women while waiting to meet the spiritual advisor. And that was just the beginning of my four hour long conversation with Millie, a sweet woman who ended up giving me her telephone number, along with all kinds of information on Bali, just in case I ever decided to go. After the flight, I couldn’t wait to tell my husband our plans had changed. No longer were we traveling to Italy. Instead we were going to Indonesia, via Hong Kong, and staying in a tiny hotel near Monkey Forest, a place also mentioned in the book.
“Are you kidding me!” my husband exclaimed when I told him the news. “You can visit Bali with your next husband. I’m going to Italy.”
“But Millie said Bali is relaxing and peaceful and tranquil, full of spirituality. Isn’t that what we want, that kind of experience. She said all you have to do is sit on your porch and Bali comes to you.”
“The only thing I want coming to me is bowl of macaroni and perhaps a little gelato. I’ll be in Italy whether you’re with me or not.”
So that’s kind of how we, the husband and I – not Millie and I – came to pick Venice and Positano over Rome. Everyone thinks we’re crazy for not spending more time in Rome. Maybe we are. But if it weren’t for the book Eat Pray Love, I wouldn’t have met Millie, and if I hadn’t met Millie, I wouldn’t have realized what I really needed was a relaxing vacation, not an action packed week and a half in Rome, and if I hadn’t realized that, I probably wouldn’t find myself overlooking the magical canals of Venice or the beautiful coastline of the Amalfi Coast in May. God I can’t wait.
“I read your blog,” said my friend Cady over the phone. “You know I read that book you mentioned, Eat Pray Love.”
No, I did not know that, and I wondered why she hadn’t told me sooner. So I asked Cady the second question people ask whenever they see someone reading the book, which is a question I ask often at work while pouring drinks in coach. “Did you like it?”
“Eh,” said Cady, and then she laughed. “You know there’s a website called Eat Pray Loathe.”
I laughed, because I could kind of understand why.
Cady continued, “There are times when the author just goes on and on and on…”
Cady and Millie aren’t the only ones who feel “eh” about the book, because half the people who reviewed it on Amazon.com felt the exact same way. You either love it or hate it. I found it humorous and insightful and I also found myself cooking a lot more pasta than ususal, which made the husband, a born and bred New Yorker, very happy, and when he’s happy, I’m happy.
Yeah, that's me, the one standing in the aisle wearing flammable polyester...