Traveling with Pomegranates

20Mar10

Do you know that I haven’t updated this blog in a long time?  Of course you do — if you’re one of my four readers.  My apologies.  We’ve been cooking and posting on Saucy and Bossy and that has taken all the blogging life out of me — well, that and the insane amount of stress I’ve been under lately just in life.  Quarter life crisis?  At 28?  Probably not but I’m developing adult acne and I have a bad cold sore outbreak for the past couple of months (yuck!).   It is no excuse for NOT blogging, but it’s what I’m going to go with.

Traveling with Pomegranates

Crisis or not, I have been reading a lot, per usual.  For Christmas, my sister purchased copies of Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor for my mom and me, with the instructions that we all had to read it together and discuss.  I wasn’t on the fence about reading this book, but I have to say that I was really really nervous about it.  My mom and my sister have both read and loved The Secret Life of Bees, which I haven’t read yet.  Since I had not had a “Sue Monk Kidd experience” (as my sister said), I was afraid I’d be left out in the cold — what if I didn’t like her but everyone else did?  What if her ideologies didn’t give with mine?  What if I just thought Traveling with Pomegranates was fluffy (gasp, horror….)?  (Disclaimer:  Normally I do not obsess about other people’s opinions about book — like in book club — but it makes things different when it’s all in the family.)   I obviously thought a lot about this before I started reading.

Before I let you know a bit about the book, I have to say, I was wrong in my assumptions. I truly did enjoy this book (and I’m not a non-fiction reader, really).  Conceptually, this book is a dual travelogue, chronicling the trips to Greece and France that Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor took together from 1998 – 2000.  In a greater sense, though, Sue Monk Kidd (SMK) and Ann Kidd Taylor (AKT) write about their lives, and the changes they learn about themselves throughout the journey.  SMK is on the precipice of fifty, hoping to figure out what to do with her aspirations of becoming a novelist.  At the time of her travels, SMK has written several successful pieces of nonfiction, most of which surround feminism and religion, but she has a greater hope to write fiction.  AKT is fresh from collegiate life, and without a clue as to what to do next.  She is afraid of losing herself in her partner (something she has done before) and feels lost and depressed because her graduate program of choice has rejected her.  Both mother and daughter are not incredibly forthcoming with their senses of loss and confusion, and yet it’s clear that they want to share.

Through their travels, their intense connection and passion for the historical women (mythical and not) that came before them, and their strong senses of spirituality, SMK and AKT are able to figure out their paths and find the strength and empowerment to move forward with their lives.  Using the Demeter and Persephone myth, as well as a somewhat alternate understanding of the Virgin Mary (and the Black Madonna), SMK and AKT explain their internal journeys through their external travels.

I don’t want to risk being redundant in my conversation with my sister and my mom, so I won’t go too far into what I thought about the book and how it personally resonated for me, but I will say that I felt a strong connection to both of these women.  I often struggle with my career path and what I want to do — and still am drawn to the “necessary fire” of writing, though I haven’t chained myself at my desk to write in ages.  Like Ann Taylor Kidd, I also have struggled in the past with marriage and the conventions that society (though, thankfully not my parnter…) have implanted in me about what it means to be a wife and not wanting to lose myself in that definition.  I even feel like I have wrestled with a spiritual self that I don’t let shine through enough — and maybe need to begin to find my own personal female triptych of inspiration and adulation.

Overall, I would say that this book has really allowed me to reflect on myself and my own journey, and has perhaps encouraged some self-dialogue that I have been ignoring.  It even drove me to blog too, which I’m grateful for.  I hope to keep it up,  at least get some of my words out there.

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