Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Truth and Beauty

This is another book I recently finished and also gave me much food for thought. It’s a memoir by Ann Patchett, of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face, which I will now have to read. The gist of it for the three of you who never heard of her, is that Lucy (who died at about age 40 a few years ago), who had lost her jaw to a childhood cancer, spent her entire adulthood having surgery after surgery to reconstruct her face, never succeeding long-term, was by all accounts a charming and dynamic character who had many friends, Ann Patchett among the closest. It’s an interesting book not just because of the compelling friendship between them, but for the questions it raises. It’s not that these aren’t things I’ve given quite a bit of thought to before but among these questions are: What are the boundaries of a friendship? Under what circumstances can those boundaries be stretched? How do I define beauty vs. how it’s defined for me, and what would I do if I were ever in Lucy’s situation? One of the most heartbreaking things about Lucy’s story is that although she had an active sex life, she never really found love, and was desperate for it and of course she had a hard time wondering if that was possible for her under the circumstances. It was especially interesting for me having come to love relatively late in the game, after 40 and thinking Lucy’s exact same thoughts until not long before Ben came into the picture, maybe I’m just not lovable, except in my case, minus the face issue – I have, and am grateful for, a fully operational face. I want to think Lucy would have found it eventually if she were still here, and that it had nothing to do with her face, in spite of how naïve that sounds – so many people obviously loved her, and no small number of men slept with her, and it seems to me like myself, that she just hadn’t met the right person yet. That sucks so hard, but it happens. My friend Anne had a really interesting post recently that is perhaps tangential to this but I think intersects well on the beauty angle (not to mention interesting on other fronts). More TK.

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