Oh Ann Patchett can soothe the soul…

I mentioned in the last post how vital and beautiful Ann Patchett’s writing about female friendship is. It’s also unique, as Erin Wunker pointed out. When Ann met Lucy:

When I turned around the say hello, she shot through the door with a howl. In a second she was in my arms, leaping up onto me, her arms locked around my neck, her legs wrapped around my waist, ninety-five pounds that felt no more than thirty. She was crying into my hair. She squeezed her legs tighter. It was not a greeting so much as it was a claim: she was staking out this spot on my chest as her own and I was to hold her for as long as she wanted to stay….

I do not remember our love unfolding, that we got to know one another and in time became friends. I only remember that she came through the door and it was there, huge and permanent and first. I felt I had been chosen by Lucy and I was thrilled. I was twenty-one years old and very strong. She had a habit of pitching herself into my arms like a softball without any notice. She liked to be carried.

I’ve read Truth and Beauty: A Friendship at least six times. That bolded line has always, and will always stick with me. It is one of the best books I have ever read about beauty, and about  love. It is a memoir about two women best friends.

I did Lucy and myself a great disservice our second year at Iowa and left the house on Governor Street to move in with my boyfriend, who lived in a small cottage behind a larger house a mile away. This act of packing up an leaving home set in motion a much larger mistake that would take years to correct. At the time I thought this was my big chance for love, that I was doing something very romantic and important, but looking back on it now, it all seems part of a very simple equation: I left the house where I lived with someone who loved me to go to the house of someone who did not love me at all. Wasn’t it more important to live with a man, a man who was certain to wake up one day and be happy because I was there with all my good intentions sleeping beside him? Wasn’t that more valuable than staying with a friend who made me laugh, who made me think about everything, but was, in the end, just a girl?

Ann Patchett has this language that Erin Wunker seeks, but is one of the few.

 

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