We’ve been spending (the kids and I) a few days in Poughkeepsie with my dear friend Elizabeth. She was my matron of honor, and is godmother to Sarah. She is also the homeschooling Catholic mother of four beautiful children. Oh, and she speaks five languages and holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from U of M. She’s several years younger than me, but when I get caught in a stickyish mother place, I stop and say to myself, “Okay, what would Elizabeth do?”
The only thing wrong with her, in fact, is that she lives too darn far away. Bah!
Last night, we slipped out of the house after putting the kids down, leaving them in the care of Uncle Paul, and went to see “Julie and Julia.” Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, who brought French cuisine to American kitchens through her classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
It’s also the story of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a down-on-her-luck writer who reinvented her life by blogging her way through Child’s cookbook from cover to cover. When nothing else about her life was going well — she hated her job, hated her home, and was none too contented with her marriage — she reached out for some kind of connection (as many bloggers do) through her readers. And (as bloggers sometimes do) she sometimes got so caught up in her virtual community, she began to neglect — benignly but truly — the people in her life that she needed most.
The juxtaposition of these two women’s stories shows how much things have changed — and yet, not really. Julia fussed with her editors and co-authors in pen, or with carbon copies; Julie’s dragons were fought via phone and WiFi. And yet, each of them — childless and searching for a sense of purpose — ultimately found that purpose in relationship to the men who loved them and supported them in good times and bad.
It isn’t often that you get such a moving, honest portrayal of not one but two marriages, both of them happy in their own way. It’s refreshing to see a couple face the dragons together instead of turning them on one another. And I found it interesting that each of these women — though presumably they never met one another — became a kind of nurturing mentor through their literary “children,” and through giving of themselves to friends and family through the simple tools of domesticity: the saucepan, the roaster, and a really good bottle of wine.
When was the last time you made your husband’s taste buds sing?