EXCERPT: 'Cleaving' by Julie Powell

Eric and I married young, but that doesn't mean it was precipitous. We'd already known each other for seven years by the time I donned that white organza princess gown, walked down that stone path on my father's arm to the bubbly notes of "My Baby Just Cares For Me." We could look right down to the bottom of one another and see what was swimming there, like silver fish flashing in clear mountain lakes. At our center wasn't sexuality or ambition, though we shared both. No, deep understanding, that's what we had. The nagging voice I've all my life heard in my head, the one people might call addiction or restlessness or waywardness, but which is to me almost an embodiment, some thing outside of myself– impish, far from benign, but also inspiring and not entirely unconcerned with my self-interest – Eric believed in it. He feared it sometimes, but he believed in it. In 2002, when I turned twenty-nine, and we were living in Brooklyn, and I was stuck in yet another in a long line of ill-paid, dead-end jobs, loving my husband – clinging to him, in fact, as the sole solace in a world that I figured by and large didn't have much use for me – but unhappy and beginning to feel I just didn't in fact have much of a talent for happiness, Eric understood that when the voice spoke to me I had to listen.

"I think I have to cook my way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I, 524 recipes. In the space of a year. And I'm going to blog it."

"I think you should." He didn't even look confused. Eric could always divine for me just who I was and just what I could do.

So: I did this crazy cooking thing, and did it saucily, with style and courage. And I was rewarded. Suddenly, I was successful. A book deal, a career! Using the very stuff of my despair and frustration, I'd turned my life around, transformed myself from a depressed secretary to an Author. I was, I thought, just what I wanted to be - confident, brave and well-paid. I was congratulated on my transformation, and because I was now a confident woman, I accepted the congratulations. But privately, I knew that I owed it entirely to Eric. He'd seen me as better than I was, and had shown me the way to get there. If you'd told me then he'd not understand when the voice spoke again, that I was capable of doing anything that could erode the faith of this most loyal of men, I'd never have believed you.

But by the time I followed the whisper here, to this butcher shop two hours from my home in the city, I'd learned through bitter experience that I was wrong. It turns out that things, even perfect things, pieces that seem to fit, to work together, can warp and crack and change.

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