Kate, the heroine-in-training in my novel, The Last Great American Housewife, has a good life – a husband, two kids, and a house in the suburbs -but then her mother dies, and nothing is right. Her good life suddenly feels empty. She hunts, desperately, for something to satiate the hunger. At first, Kate shadows elderly women home from the grocery store. Making certain these women get home safely gives Kate a reason to get up in the morning. But then she is arrested and her days once again are void of meaning. She wishes she had a different life.
One night, over chips and salsa and too many margaritas, she meets a beautiful young college student and poet named Jeremiah. He looks at her the way her husband Nate used to when they were younger – filled with desire.
They meet in the middle of the afternoon at Norm’s on La Cienega. With their legs pressed against each other under the table, they share a slice of cherry pie. The sticky filling is too sweet, the crust, buttery and flaky, and the young man delivering the bite isn’t Nate. For that moment, the pie is all that Kate can taste. She is full. She is a different person - beautiful, carefree and daring. Not a wife and mother wearing elastic waistband jeans on the verge of forty. But after the last of the syrup has been scraped from the plate, all that remains is a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. The ardent suitor is just a young boy with long hair who writes poetry and can only be loved in another history. Kate is empty.
The question of what sustains us and what is sustenance is at the heart of The Last Great American Housewife. Most of us live under the delusion that happiness lies somewhere outside. If only we had the perfect husband, the perfect kids, body, car, job, enough money, time, freedom (whatever we think would fill that hole) then our happiness would be fed. Is our environment responsible for filling our need for self-love, confidence and happiness? Or must we learn to feed ourselves?
Eventually, Kate climbs a tree by the mall to save it from being torn down. Living on the platform, she quickly learns which foods can be sustained from the heat, wind, cold, birds and squirrels.
Things a housewife can eat up in a tree while hiding from her family include:
That is, unless it rains. Then she’s pretty much stuck with Gatorade and apples.
Forty feet above the earth, Kate finally discovers the best recipe for happiness: facing oneself. And when she climbs down, she is no longer hungry.
Except for thin crust pizza with white sauce, fresh basil and sliced tomatoes. Served with a nice Chianti.
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Staci!
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