GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Saturday, April 7

Just a bit of light reading...

Last night was typical of many nights in my life. I watched a movie with some roommates and friends, spent some time talking on the phone to various friends, and then retreated to my room to read. There was laughter and games to be had with the group in my dining room but I was in a mood to read. I have learned from previous experience that people feel obligated to include me if I read while they are playing in the same room. If I decline the invitation, they feel as if they have to continue to invite me, to make sure I do not feel left out. They do not understand that I am completely comfortable….and dare I say happy… just listen to the sounds around me and enjoy what ever I happen to be reading. I know that at any moment I could join in the laughter and games but there was no requirement that I do so. Last night, so as not to disrupt the fun, I took myself off to my room as I just wanted to sit and read.

I read a book that I had purchased while I was working nights at B & N. I had sobbed my way through Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and had decided to try his earlier work of The Five People You Meet In Heaven. This is the sweet story of the death of Eddie Maintenance, the maintenance man at Ruby Pier (an amusement park). It discusses his death, his life, and his path to Heaven. I was especially touched by a line of this book, when discussing the lives that we lead it said “…each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories but the stories are all one.” I might not agree with this version of “Heaven” but the book made quite an impact on my thinking.

This morning I picked up the play Pygmalion. Many months ago in a small used bookstore in Texas I came across this play by Bernard Shaw. My older brother, Ralph, told me that I should read it, that I would recognize the story. I flipped through it and immediately recognized the story of Miss Doolittle and Professor Higgins. I refused to purchase this book, as I have never liked the ending of My Fair Lady. Ralph explained that he disliked the play because it had a different ending, that Eliza didn’t go back to live with the Professor. This peaked my interest and since the book only cost me 50 cents I figured I would take it home to read. It has taken me forever to find the time, but I can’t say that I don’t like the play any more then I like the musical…the words of the musical were taken directly from the play entirely. I could even tell where to add the musical numbers. I am unsure if I like this ending any better then I like the ending of the movie.

What do these 2 books have in common? Why am I writing of them today? Both of these stories are considered “romantic” due to the transformation of the main characters; Eliza, from lowly flower girl to Lady and Eddie as he comes to realize the secret of Heaven.
But what romance can be found in the story of Eliza….I find her story sad, without the love and acceptance that I would find necessary in my life. She changes from the innocent girl of the gutter to a Lady of the world, knowing she is never going to fit in to the world that she has been brought in to. She lives out her life, with “some consideration” from Colonel Pickering and the complete adoration of Freddy Eynsford Hill.
Eddie on the other hand, his story I find to be tragic and full of romance, an old man with a life that has been lived. Not the life he would have chosen for himself but one that was necessary. There was tragedy from war, neglect from his father, and a job he never wanted to have. But to balance it out, he had the “girl of his dreams”. Their life was not always a happy one, but together they withstood, even after her death he loved her. And even though this book was about Eddie’s death, as I finished Eddie’s story last night I felt as if I should have been sad. I wasn’t. I was happy for Eddie. In contrast, as I finished Eliza’s story this morning, I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. Even though she had her life yet to live, was married, had her flower shop and her friends, I feel as if she would never find the happiness that was Eddie’s. And that, I feel is the saddest thing of all.


Sherpa said...

Yeah, Pygmalion the play is great--and has more undertones and subtleties than My Fair Lady. It's considered a romance--but there's also a lot of essays out there and writers of literature who talk about the other themes and the result of Higgin's transformation of Eliza. I really enjoy it for the complications of the results.

If you get a chance, read the original play Sabrina. Very interesting also.

Boo said...

Its so funny that you just finished The Five People You Meet in Heaven. One of my friends sent it to me for Christmas. She didn't know but I had read the book years before. I re-read it and bawled my eyes out. It is such a beautiful story. My heart ached for Eddie and yet his heaven was perfect because he was reunited with his love--his wife, who must have loved him because she put up with things I never would tolerate. :)
Thanks for reminding me that all stories really are connected, creating one story.