Chapter One: The Year of Pleasures

I read this chapter several times….and I would have to say that I loved it. Berg has a way with her words that put me right into the story, finding myself sitting on that big old wraparound porch.  Probably because this house reminds me of my own in many ways.

My heart aches for Betta…I can feel her pain and I understand her need to move forward. Some people need to move forward and remove all belongings and erase all the memories,  and others need to sit still….. and just hold on for dear life of the pieces of things left behind.
I think Betta needs to follow through with the dream her and John had…somehow I think she believes he will stay close to her if she does.  After losing your life partner you reach for anything that keeps you believng in your love.  Since the loss of my father…I have watched my mother doing the same thing..she talks about moving on, she talks about removing his things, but still she sits and holds on…not ready to let go. Berg writes "It was more than the beauty of this house making me want it. It was that I thought acquiring it would somehow empower me to do more of what I need to do. There was so much more I would need to do"
My question for you: What do you think Betta mean by these words?
Is she talking about the work needed to be done with the house, or something more?  Has she made a mistake moving so fast or will this help her to live again without John?
I don’t think Betta is as reliant upon John as she thinks.  I think she knows inside herself that she has always been strong and that who she is is more about her than about John.  I DO think that she is suffering loss, from not having him at her side to share experiences and to share decisions and to feel deeply those things that only a couple in love for a very long time can share.   I DO think that she is up for the adventure of her own calling.  It’s my thought that in life, we don’t look for someone to complete us…it is for us to complete ourselves and then share that person with others.
In terms of what ‘needs to be done’…it’s all about her learning to be free in her own skin.  It’s about her purpose, her discoveries and her interactions.  She is being called to leave her coccoon.
Am I coming across as though I don’t feel sad for Betta?  I do.  But, from the outset of the novel…Berg opens up a road…lets us share a journey.  And for me, all of Betta’s pores are wide open.  Berg describes everything so clearly as Betta drives…as though all of the protagonist’s senses are heightened somehow.  I like that she’s moving so fast!  I like that she’s noticing other people…seeing new places…I even like that she’s in touch with the pain.  It’s as though she is truly ALIVE.  I am happy for her new house.  And I am really pretty excited to be invited to share in her adventure. 
I think Betta is totaly reliant on John. Now that he is gone she is realizing just how much. The sudden fact of total independence has hit her when she says "There is so much more I would need to do". She will need to learn to be on her own and do the things that John had always done for her. Meaning….to be her own best friend, to be able to enjoy her own company…not the chores around the house.
I think she is moving fast with the move and the new house…but it feels right to her at this point….the need for change…the need to fulfill their dream as a couple. But I admire her courage…I think moving fast is better than sitting and doing nothing.

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