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Food & Love

August 14, 2009

Josh and I are on vacation this week, and our travels will be the subject of another post. But, while I’m thinking about it, I’m going to tell you what we’ve been up to this evening. We went to see the new film Julie & Julia. Before I give my thoughts on the film, you should know some of my personal history with the book.

I read the book in 2007, just after Josh’s and my wedding. I was bleakly unemployed and we were living on Josh’s rather small salary. Spending $2 on ice cream (to split!) was a major date night. We could not afford much in the way of groceries or gas, so I couldn’t make gourmet meals, or really even go anywhere. I was trapped in our townhouse with piles of wedding presents to unpack, piles of papers to file (Josh is not a filer–ever), and loads of free time. Fortunately, the library was not far, and, because we did not have internet or air conditioning, I spent a lot of time there.

While in college, I saw a great many books I wanted to read, but did not have time for, due to my already expansive reading load. During the summers, when I could have been reading, I was generally working, or watching TV to recover some semblance of sanity. One of the books I had put off was Julie & Julia. During that first married summer, I was browsing the library  stacks, and there it was. I brought it home, began reading, and became thoroughly immersed.

I could completely empathize with Julie Powell. While she was working in a frustrating job, I was becoming increasingly frustrated at my lack of a job. Where she was seeking a creative outlet and to challenge herself to complete a difficult task, I was finding it challenging to manage a household. She had a small budget with which to complete her recipes. I could barely afford to buy groceries.  Reading about her struggles with the food, with herself, and with her husband was like a wonderful analogy of my own life. No one tells you how rough the first year of marriage can be, especially on a small budget, and even still more so with two strong-willed individuals. She handled her trials with humor, though not always with grace, and made me feel better about my own lack of grace.

In short, the book gave me hope.

Skip ahead 2 years. I see that they have made the beloved book into a film. Of course, being on vacation with Josh, I thought that a movie night was in perfect order. We went this evening and I absolutely howled with laughter. Meryl Streep is a wonderful Julia and Amy Adams plays an utterly believable counter-point as Julie. The movie perfectly expresses the hope so evident in the book. Julie becomes disheartened, but always, running through the film, is the irrepressible optimism of Julia Child. Julia toiled for 8 years on a cookbook that changed American home cuisine. Julie toiled 1 year to cook all the recipes in the cookbook. Julia had a wonderful, supportive husband in Paul, and Julie had the same in Eric. Each found that their projects gave meaning and fullness to their lives, and each found their husbands to be excellent partners in their new endeavors.

If the book gave me hope, the film gave me a renewed sense of accomplishment. In the 2 years since reading Julie & Julia, Josh and I have survived each of us losing our jobs, a car accident we absolutely could not afford, a move, a career change (for both of us), and any number of small, personal struggles. I have not always come through with grace, but thanks be to God, I have come through. Together, Josh and I met the challenges of our first year of marriage, and are stronger partners because of it. We met the challenges listed above, and though devastating at the time, have realized that God had us firmly in His hand. We are moving into year 3, and along with Julie & Julia, I am hoping to continue in hope.

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