Although all of Eat, Pray, Love arguably presents and both physical and metaphysical homelands, the latter 25 percent of the book focuses largely on the idea of a home established through feelings and the union of souls. In a sense, though, Gilbert fuses literal and figurative homelands to convey the message that, perhaps, a person must physically venture to a new land to discover a state of home that resonates as more than skin-deep. As Liz begins to believe that she is falling in love, she tries to define love through outside sources. For instance, as she asks her medicine man, Ketut, about his relationship with his wife, he can’t seem to give her exactly what she is looking for. His love seems to be of a unique and internal state—something that is his own, that both defines his life and helps him to define the world around him. Liz initially shows as interest in Filipe that cannot be ignored. In a sense, her feelings echo Ketut’s plain-stated matter-of-fact chronology of falling n love with his wife. He says: “Now I tell you how I find my wife. When I am twenty-seven years, I meet a girl and I love her” (279).
It is interesting how the only thinking Liz does concerning Felipe and her feelings for him seem to act in an effort to refute, overanalyze, or question her feelings. This was honestly kind of annoying to me, especially as she asked Ketut ad nauseum to divulge information about his palm reading from months back with Felipe. It is clear that Liz is not merely lusting, but is truly in love. As she lays on the beach with Felipe, she feels very comfortable in her general state but also with her body. Her comfort expressed how a union of two people can cause each person to feel at home with the interior and the exterior. As Felipe becomes and more and more important part of her life, Bali is no longer about Bali, but it is about Felipe.
I was not a fan of Liz’s behavior or approach as she was falling in love, especially as this was not merely any relationship, but the man she’d eventually marry. The woman falling in love with Felipe should have been a more mature, self-reliant woman than the one who cried on the bathroom floor in the beginning of the book. Although I’m not necessarily (ok, definitely not) on team Liz, I saw the end of the book, which highlighted love, as Gilbert’s way of saying it’s not about just a place anymore. Plus, she sort of indirectly admits that one cannot find solace that is permanent rather than temporary from travelling around by oneself, even if it is to the most beautiful, spiritual, and cuisine-savvy places in the world.
I believe, that while we are always saying in class that family and loved ones are what truly defines home, sometimes there is nothing as “home” as a romantic partner. Sure, it comes with the idea or the notion that once an individual has such a romantic partner that soon after will come a first home and whatnot, but more importantly, the right sort of love between two people will create a better state of being “at home” for each person. Liz need not indulge as much in local food and culture after she has found Felipe. The land becomes secondary, or rather, the land becomes defined by every encounter and moment spent with Felipe.
When I think about this concept I can’t help but think of my grandparents. My mom told me, since they died when I was young, that their first apartment after they were married was a bedroom with a mattress on the ground. They constantly had leaks in the ceiling and just about everything seemed to be wrong with it (think ala It’s a Wonderful Life). These things didn’t matter though. Whether it’s bali or a crappy Boston poor excuse for an apartment, new love paints a home and transforms it into a palace.