June 16, 2017

Rainy Days with Meryl Streep

I sprawled out in our orange room on a rainy afternoon, my body half on and half off the white IKEA sofa, a pillow behind my back and one on my lap for my opportunist cat who jumps on and presents his royal ear for a good scratching.

A delicious mug of Kona coffee is a treat in itself and keeps me company as I watch Julie and Julia for the fourth time. This is one of my most favorite movies … portraying a melancholic woman, Julie, who works in New York fielding insurance calls after 911 - and is an unpublished writer. Julie feels less accomplished than all her socialite 30-year-old friends, one of whom “even blogs”. She whines about this to her husband as they watch Julia Child’s The French Chef. Her husband, distractedly annoyed with her mood, gently encourages her to start her own blog. She sits straight up on the couch and after some excited discussion wonders what she could blog about. Julie loves cooking, adores Julia Child, and decides that the blog will be daily posts focused on a year of cooking through her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie’s husband helps her select a blog site and assists with set-up, she chooses the blog’s name, writes her introductory entry, clicks the post button, then waits.

Julie and Julia arrived in theaters in 2009 - I was first in line. A large bag of popcorn in my hand, a hot cup of coffee, of course; my seat secured … stage center. I was captured, enraptured and became Julie’s silent and secret apprentice. I laughed and became weepy when, after all these years, it hit me that Julia Child was dead, not realizing until that movie moment how much I missed her. Meryl Streep melded into Julia and was amazing – becoming Julia to me and I held that close to my heart to bring me out of a threatening sob.

Julia and her husband, Paul, had moved to France for his work and the couple ate often at French restaurants. She loses the ability to communicate with words but rather happily moaned when she ate food – cooked in real butter, a lot of butter. “I feel I am French” she exclaims brightly when walking through town with her husband. Paul proudly proclaims to friends, “Julia brings out the best in a pole cat” acknowledging her zest for life, love of the French - and the food.

Julia is me in that when I eat an exquisite meal, I moan and exclaim through the whole meal how wonderful it is, that “it’s the best meal I’ve ever eaten”!

Julie is me, was me, seeming to parallel my journey. I thought of myself as a writer … wrote the family periodical The Olsen Chronicles, penned stories, kept diaries and journals - but felt a void in my life’s direction. I was close to tears for most of the movie in 2009 as I morphed into these women and embraced the love and support they received from friends and family.

As the movie progressed thoughts were formulating and terminated in a decision to begin my own blog. I love watching cooking shows, and, in particular, The Barefoot Contessa … so because of my own tomboy existence chose The Barefoot Norwegian as my blog’s name. It would be a blog of positivity and would be about my experiences traveling through Michigan and my coffee shop musings. I virtually hugged Julia, Julie, and Meryl, for reigniting my writing spark.

Tears again pricked at my eyes as I sat on the couch finally allowing the grief of Julia Child’s death go, feeling comforted in knowing I still had Meryl Streep who helped redirect my life, giving me purpose during a period of my life when I needed it.

Under the Tuscan Sun is another most favorite movie … um, does this mean an Italian Villa in my future?

And, so it goes, spontaneously and unpredictably exciting…

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