Monday, January 04, 2010
I found a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love " in the laundry room of my building. It was resting next to a stray tube sock and a stack of Chinese restaurant menus. I needed something to read on the plane ride to Florida, so I picked it up.
What an insufferable book. I should have just read the Chinese restaurant menus instead.
This smug, annoying woman is privileged enough to travel to exotic locales to find Universal Truth. Then she yammers on and on about what she's learned in the most self-indulgent way.
She may have mastered esoteric chants in Sanskrit, but she sure never figured out when to shut up and let truth reveal itself without editorializing it.
Maybe I'm just lucky, but I've never needed one particular guru. And while I've both visited and lived in many places, I've never thought getting one's passport stamped is the key to Universal Truth. I found both gurus and truth this past weekend, and I wasn't even looking for them.
Then again, my gurus have always been freelance. A freelance guru will fulfill their duties and move on, never knowing they've been a guru at all. New Years Eve in the funky, beautiful little beachfront district of Gulfport, Florida was filled with them:
A Blue Moon peers through the clouds and the trees are lit with little blue lights as people walk their dogs, smoke cigars and hug their neighbors. We're staying at the Peninsula Inn, where the bartender also runs to the front desk when someone rings the bell and the waiter also vacuums your room. Somehow the waiter even knows which room we're in, despite never having met us before. Fat house cats lounge in the lobby.
Outside, tunes from the piano bar mingle with the techno thump of dance music from the gay bar down the street. A drunken Cuban woman at Peg's Brewery tells me how much she loves her 9-year-old daughter and gives me a kiss. We meet my parents at La Cote Basque, a crazy little family-run restaurant decorated with a mix of 70's wood paneling, Rococo and Victorian decor and a music box in the bathroom perpetually playing Beethoven's 9th. My parents are smiling. They've been married, divorced, and married again. They've been through treatment centers, rough times and illness. And here they are, laughing at jokes they've both told 100 times over, wearing the Christmas clothes I've given them.
After dinner, we go watch couples ballroom dance at the Gulfport Casino. Grandmothers and grandfathers, newly married couples, gay and lesbian couples. They glide along, fluidly executing moves that have always eluded me. There's something so reassuring about people wearing sequins and drinking cheap champagne on December 31st. I laugh as some woman in a sparkly pantsuit picks at the vat of free ziti with her fingers, spits a piece out and puts it back before heading out into the night.
Well past midnight, we spill out onto the beach and greet the New Year by putting our feet in the chilly Boca Ciega Bay...