the simple minded suburbanite

January 7, 2010, 3:38 pm
Filed under: authenticity, culture, suburban | Tags: , , ,

Olive Kitteridge.  Great book.  Reading it now.  Won the Pulitzer.  I admit, sometimes I’m not in love with the Pulitzer Prize winners but this one is a keeper!

Olive is starving.  She tells us so in a chapter where she is sitting at a table with a young woman who is dying from anorexia.  Olive’s revelation comes as a shock because Olive, as I have her imagined and how Eliazbeth Strout discribes her, is a big woman.  Tall.  Thick.  Big hands.  Big feet. Helmet hair.

“‘I’m starving, too,’ Olive said.  The girl looked over at her. ‘I am,’ Olive said. ‘Why do you think I eat every doughnut in sight?’

‘You’re not starving,’ Nina said with disgust.

‘Sure I am.  We all are.'”

At this moment I fall in love with Olive.  She’s kind of hard to fall in love with.  You have to go slowly.  You suspect through her tough, ex-school teacher, domineering wife, rude honesty, and nose-in-the-air judgemental veneer that she has some feeling.  Some compassion. But here, she just says it, so there is no mistaking. Olive is a human being.  She cries for this girl in this chapter.   And I cry a little for myself.

Isn’t that what reading is all about?  It shines a light on your soul.

What am I starving for?

I’ve suspected it for some time now.  I can mark the month I started gaining weight, four years ago.  I’ve topped it at 20 lbs above my “pretty girl” weight.  And I bounce between 10-15 lbs above where I should be.  I am not including the 7’ish or so pounds that hung around after having three baby boys or the incremental gains of years gone by.  I’m being realistic.  25 lbs above what I was when I got married.

But through this, it has never, at least most days, been about what size my jeans are.  What has been nagging me in the back of my head has always been, What is wrong?  Why so sad?

I won’t bore you with where I feel the lack.  I’m sure it is very similiar to where anyone else who has stepped foot in life has a small hole.  I’m also not minimizing the abundance in my life.  But, Olive’s confession stung me.  Isn’t it true?  Isn’t it true that we suspect this starving in so many people?  Isn’t this true that this sense may be what makes us turn away from others because we can’t stand to look the hunger in the face because it stings us too.  Stings us into recognition of our own hunger.

Some of us eat food.  Some, clothes.  Some, our children.  Some, our relationships.  Some, relentless exercise, or make-up, or alcohol, or pain killers, or righteousness.  Some the air, the energy, the space around us.

It’s funny thought.  Most of the time when I’m hungry, I’m really not.  I know this is no new revelation to anyone struggling with weight loss or anything else.  So instead of asking myself. What sounds good?  Sweet?  Salty?  I think I should start asking myself,

What am I starving for?

Solitude?  Recognition? Love?  Adventure?

And then I should go get a dose of it, even a small bite if you will.  Somewhere.  Anywhere, but the refrigerator.


“Of course I am.  We all are.”


1 Comment so far
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This is lovely, and something for me to think about. Really think about.

Thank you. I’m adding the book to my list for 2010.

Comment by bessieviola

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