Is there a certain age at which we are expected to have found ourselves? Truly, do we ever? And who sets those expectations? Those are the questions I was left asking myself as I finished I Came All This Way to Meet You novelist Jami Attenberg’s memoir.
After all, Attenberg finished writing her memoir as she approached age 50, and was only beginning to feel like she was finding herself. After years of working odd jobs, moving around, and wanting to devote more time to writing, she finally published a novel. Then, after years of writing, traveling, crashing on friends’ couches throughout the world, and undergoing a fair share of personal trauma, she found she was only just beginning to decide what she wanted out of life.
Despite her lack of success in romantic relationships, Attenberg writes about very close and loyal friendships with people she has met throughout her travels. She explored the Capuchin Catacombs in Italy where her friend Viola took her to see a small child perfectly entombed in glass since 1920. After, Viola took her out for a piece of decadent seven-layer chocolate hazelnut cake.
Just like Attenberg herself, the book seems to be trying to find its way. Her stories are flawed and pieced together, but remind us to enjoy our journeys, even if we are unsure what destination we want. As for me, I’ll skip the catacombs, but gladly take the cake.