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Eat, Pray, Love

17 May 2010

From chapter 29, in the part on Italy. Elizabeth Gilbert is writing about her older sister, Catherine’s, visit to Rome. I suddenly realize that I am her older sister.

She arrives in Rome prepared, as ever. She brings five guidebooks, all of which she has read already, and she has the city pre-mapped in her head. She was completely oriented before she even left Philadelphia. And this is a classic example of the differences between us. I am the one who spent my first weeks in Rome wandering about, 90 percent lost and 100 percent happy, seeing everything around me as an unexplainable beautiful mystery. But this is how the world kind of always looks to me. To my sister’s eyes, there is nothing which cannot be explained if one has access to a proper reference library. This is a woman who keeps The Columbia Encyclopedia in her kitchen next to the cookbooks–and reads it, for pleasure.

There is a game I like to play with my friends sometimes called “Watch This!” Whenever anybody’s wondering about some obscure fact (for instance: “Who was Saint Louis?”) I will say, “Watch this!” then pick up the nearest phone and dial my sister’s number. Sometimes I’ll catch her in the car, driving her kids home from school in the Volvo, and she will muse: “Saint Louis…well, he was a hairshirt-wearing French king, actually, which is interesting because…”

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