19. Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves
Wanderlust has a particular significance to my life right now, as I just finished a job, picked up a suitcase, and began a trip around the country to visit friends and find employment. Although I finished the book a couple months ago, I often still turn to the pages I've marked (with convenient sticky markers like these, you didn't think I'd really deface a book, did you?)and marvel how much I can identify with the author. I'm also jealous; she's traveled in Egypt, Yemen, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and more. She's lived in Vancouver, in Paris, and in New York City.
But this book is more than "a love affair with five continents" or even a series of love affairs with a wide range of interesting and international men (though there's that too). Eaves reflects on her motivations, strengths, and failures, in prose that sounds like the ruminations of a particularly thoughtful and word-associative friend. The chapters are organized helpfully, on subjects ranging from Objectification to Love. While the book does have a coherent chronological order, one could also easily skip around to subjects of interest and be sure to read an entertaining story that adds to the contemplative whole.
I wonder if I would relate so much to this book were I not a female in my mid-20s fatally attracted to travel and change. I imagine others might find Eaves' motivations difficult to understand and certainly even I found some of her behavior reprehensible. Early in the book, she frequently and without further comment alludes to lovers that she took while ostensibly in a committed relationship. Later, she does provide a note of insight, if not justification, for her behavior. The variety that she craves in travel is reflective of the variety she craves in men, and furthermore the adventure-seeker in her loved the thrill of the double life, of waking up with her American lover and going to bed with her Swedish one. That's one aspect I don't personally relate to, but in her words, it seems more understandable.
The thrill of adventure and intertwined desires for travel and romantic love are themes throughout the book. Eaves writes, "Love is only a moment passed through, not somewhere you can go and live," and explains, "People who hate to make choices...are attracted to travel."
I highly recommend Wanderlust to those who love travel and travel memoirs, and also as a warning to those who love perennial travellers.