50-Year-Old Women

July 22, 2009

This one was recommended by Burroughs. Augusten, that is. My favorite author ever. I had to read it. It made me feel many things and I enjoyed the style a lot, it really read like letters and journal entries, which is what the book is made up of. And Augusten recommended it on his list of Books To Make You Feel Like A Kid Again: “The last book I am going to suggest has nothing to do with childhood, so at first it may seem an odd choice. But if childhood is the single time in life when it seemed our nerves were new and we could feel life itself against our skin and there was no dividing the day into segments, where there was only one long “right now” — then The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg is exactly the book to take you back. ” 
Well that’s all it took for me, after an explanation like that. I am always longing to go back to that time when it was okay to do nothing, where we’d get pleasure from seeing a ball go up and down in front of our eyes. On with the excerpts. A little background info, Nan is the main character, a 50-year-old who is running away from home. Italics mean she is writing in her journal, and regular means she is writing to her husband, Martin. 
After looking through my page numbers of excerpts, none are from the letters, only her journal entries. I wonder if that means anything. I am going to bold my favorite parts like the last entry. 

Excerpt #30:
 I have a picture to give you, too. Here is a forties photograph of a woman that I found in last Sunday’s paper. She is seated on the grass, wearing a suit and a hat, her purse centered in her lap. She is smiling, but her eyes ache, and behind her, I know this, her hands are clenched. She can’t relax. She has forgotten the grass. I kept staring at her, thinking, this is me. Checking my purse three times for keys before I leave the house. Stacking mail in order of the size of the envelopes. Answering the phone every single time it rings, writing “paper towels” on the grocery list the second after I use the last one. I too have forgotten the grass. But I used to do one-handed cartwheels and then collapse into it for the fine sight of the blades close up. And there was no sense of any kind of time. And I was not holding in my stomach or thinking what does my opinion mean to others. I was not regretting any part of myself. There was only sun-rich color, and smell, and the slight give of the soft earth beneath me. My mind was in my heart, anchored like a bright kite in a safe place . (9)

For this one, Nan just fell almost face-first into the cement sidewalk, and this man that was behind her runs up and makes sure she’s okay. They start talking. And this is Nan writing about it later.

Excerpt #31:
          I’ll bet his name is Willy or something like that, and he puts down beer in the VFW hall in the late afternoons, his hat pushed to the back of his head. I’ll bet he has many key son his key chain and that the fob is tacky and meaningful. Baloney must be in his refrigerator. His socks must be thin and cheap and the blue that turns purple, and he must not be strict about how many days in a row they are put to the task. 
          Our steps made such a fine sound on the roller-coaster sidewalks. Our conversation was so light and arbitrary and I felt like my imagination was off the leash and rolling in the grass that had turned bluish in the setting sun.
          I still feel that way now, that my imagination is free, that I have a red carpet unfurled before me like Dorothy’s yellow brick road and I can go on and on. Speak, this journal says. I’m listening to you. Go ahead and say anything. Confess. Exult. Weep. Nothing makes me walk away. Nothing bores me.  (31)

Excerpt #32:
On my twentieth birthday, I was out driving with a girlfriend and we picked up a man I have thought about a million times since. He sat in the back with his arm draped across the seat as though his invisible companion were along for the ride, too. My girlfriend and I were kidding around a little bit and he was laughing at everything we said and soon we were all laughing, it was the kind of thing where the laughter feeds on itself, where the sound of someone else’s snorting and wheezing keeps you going until you don’t even know why you started laughing in the first place – and you don’t care. It’s so good for you, that kind of hard laughter, so cleansing – you feel like your liver’s been held up and hosed down, your heart relieved of a million grimy weights. (91-92)


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