The weekend before last, APW-ers all over the world got together to discuss Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. Ostensibly. In reality, it appears that ladies all over the country got together to meet new friends, or as they put it, to meet old friends they hadn’t met yet. Awww.
All of this is just as well, since it means that later this week we’ll get to break out out copies of Committed and do some serious online discussion. But, in the meantime, I wanted to give you a sum up in some words and pictures, of just what happened at these APW book club meetups.
In Calgary, Morgan summed it up like this:
We barely got to the questions. We were there for almost four hours, until the coffee shop closed up around us. We talked about stories – the way we tell stories matters. We were quite baldly honest about things, and there may have perhaps been a teary-eyed moment. We didn’t talk much about vendors or planning a wedding or frankly, even the book - we jumped right in to family drama and being a feminist and paying attention to the world and building our own ideas and ideals. We pegged the ‘windows and walls’ theory as being terribly important. The truth that not even the Stasi could listen to secrets told in the bed in the dark. (Given I just recently got back from Berlin, that one resonated with me a lot.)
The power of our own stories.
Of the need to build community.
After getting kicked out, we stood outside in cold weather, still talking. Made plans for drinks/lunch, and then immediately became facebook friends.
Liz wrote a little about the Philly meet up, and these are some of the things that really stuck out to me:
We discussed ALOT about finances. It seems like those of us who make less have a harder time with the idea of “one pot.” while, I make more, so I have no problem whatsoever with saying “everything is OURS” because I don’t feel in debt to him or a burden to him.
We discussed being influenced by our parents’ definition of marriage. It seems that as we’ve gotten older, each of us were surprised by how forward-thinking our parents were when we got down to asking them. (Seriously. I thought my mom was verging on ANTI-feminist until I was married and privy to her marriage-chats.)
We discussed the idea of marriage being socially beneficial, in that two are better at serving their community than one. If Josh has a friend who needs a meal, I can do that! if I have a guy friend who needs a place to stay for the night, I feel more comfortable inviting him over because Josh is there. When my friend moved out of her boyfriend’s house, and I was the moral support and Josh was the box-lifter.
In Houston, they shared this absolute gem of Grandmother wisdom (Grandmothers quite seriously have the best advice) that made me think about my post about fighting feelings of martyr-dom:
Never expect your relationship to be 50-50; expect to give 75% and receive 25%. If you both do that you’ll be pretty close to even. And remember, sometimes in life you’ll have to give 99% and vice versa.
And then there was Dallas, where they quite seriously have the best swag. (Oh! And that’s Alyssa in the green shirt!)
Like these bookmarks.
Or these… drum roll please… WEDDING ELVES (I knooooowwwwww). I’m making them mail me some.
I was sick and missed the San Francisco meetup, but there were so many women there, and everyone I heard from said it was so empowering (they even have a SF APW Group on Facebook now!) Mariela Isabel (who’s pre-engaged, and drove all the way up from LA for the meetup) said:
I came away from the meetup feeling invincible, and so damn proud to be a part of a community made up of such strong & intellectual women. When I got home that night my boyfriend & his roommates could see it on my face, I was a happy girl. I tried explaining to them that it wasn’t six hours of wedding talk, especially since I’m not even engaged. The best I could come up with was that it was a simple, food-filled, epic hour discussion about women. The good, the bad & the bridal. Ha.
Allison told me:
The jumping off point of the day was one of the last chapters where Gilbert describes marriage as the biggest subversive act that someone could make. The general consensus seemed to be that by forming a partnership with someone you were making your own family unit stronger. My partner is the one I talk about politics with, he’s the one I make my decisions with, he’s the one that I make my grand life plans with. There isn’t anyone/ any government that can change that. This idea tied into the fight against Gay Marriage. The point was brought up that the ones fighting so hard against Gay Marriage seem to be the ones so afraid of Gay culture. It’s almost like they are afraid that by letting gay couples get married society is essentially giving homosexual people more power and more control. But, paradoxically, marriage may be the place where gay and straight people will always be the same. I’m sure that my husband and I make the same alliances with each other that Dan and Terry do. Shouldn’t those that are afraid of gay marriage also be afraid of straight marriage?
And that’s it! Later this week, we’ll be back, discussing the good, the bad, and the gritty about Committed. Frankly, I can’t wait.