… Inscribed on a Balinese river stone, I simply had to buy it!
I must admit I felt like a tourist, a groupie, hm … a child of the universe … as we crossed over from Pennsylvania into New Jersey's Frenchtown, in search for Two Buttons, the store of Jose and Liz. As in Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love, and Felipe, her Brazilian lover (now husband, Jose Nunes).
After an easy drive from our Mount Airy home in Philadelphia, along the banks of the Delaware River, on a glorious ending-of-summer-day, at the edge of Frenchtown, New Jersey, we discovered the sprawling warehouse, Two Buttons:
We wandered in and found ourselves transported to a "world of wonders." As described on their web-page, the store is full of "beautiful objects from hidden corners of the world." And as we walked through, we found the rooms opening and extending further and further, each filled with more and more beautiful objects.
We bought a number of different items:
I started with a much needed boundary statue: "Boundaries and Boundary-markers are very important in Indonesian life and culture. Often used to literally mark land boundaries, these statues are also used to protect ones emotional boundaries as well. Carved out of lava rock from the island of Sulawasi, these wonderful individually unique statues help to support and protect your boundaries. Haven't we all had times when our boundaries needed a little support?"
And proceeded to some bracelets and a japa mala:
I even found a beautifully carved wooden hand to hold my rings when I sleep or garden!
But then, life partner became serious. He found …
… a large wooden elephant for our library …
… an iguana carved from teak to hide between some plants on our sun porch …
… and a large picture of the Buddha's face for one section of the living room.
We were so excited, and paid for our purchases while Winston kindly helped to load them into the car – but as we were exiting, we noticed a tall, serene Buddha standing by the front door. Life partner said, "Wouldn't that look good by our front door?" I gasped with joy and almost clapped my hands together like a small child. "Yes of course," I said breathlessly. So back we went and bought that too!
That meant moving things around in the car to help the statue fit in comfortably, and we set off into Frenchtown to find a place for lunch. The day was bright and clear, sun shining brilliantly and people were out and about – a feeling of end of summer panic in the air. Time for the last few moments of fun before school starts again, and with that, fall's routine hum-drum of work, work, work settles in again. Ah, the cycle of life!
Just as we were walking through the town searching for the right eating spot, I gasped out loud,"Oh dear, I forgot to take a photograph of the huge, white Buddha at the entrance to the store!" Life partner comforted me at once, "After lunch we'll go back on our way and I'll take a picture of you standing by the Buddha." "No need for tourist pictures," I replied with a laugh, "It was bad enough that I bought a river stone with Attraversiamo inscribed on it! How embarrassing is that! Don't tell anyone I did that, for goodness sake. Have I become an Eat, Pray, Love groupie?"
And so, after lunch we wandered back to Two Buttons. I was excited to see it again. I ran out to take a picture of the Buddha at the entrance to the store:
As I was returning to the car, Life partner noticed two tall urns standing in the sun. Whitish-yellow, delicately carved, standing on two pedestals. We drew in closely to look at them. I was thinking of the urn for our dining room. Although not pale green or porcelain, this looked much like the shape of the vase I had dreamed about recently. We were commenting to each other in amazement at how inexpensive the urns were, when a man about our age came out to tell us they were from Vietnam, made of marble, and were inexpensive probably because they might have been broken and repaired at some stage. After agreeing that we could buy just one, he worked laboriously to tip up the urn and pour out all the rain water that had gathered inside over the past days or weeks. It looked extremely heavy, and I worried about him straining his back.
As we talked together I started to realise that this man was, in fact, Jose Nunes, Elizabeth Gilbert's husband. I smiled and laughed, exclaiming, "Ah, so you are Javier Bardem!" Jose smiled in return and said something about Javier being a "very jazzed-up version" of him! As we entered the store through the back in order to purchase the marble urn, Jose said that Liz was inside if we wanted to meet her. I was thrilled. "I wonder if she wouldn't mind signing a copy of my book?" I asked a little sheepishly, since I had put my copy in the car before we left home … you know, just in case. "Of course!" Jose replied kindly. Come on in!
Before we knew it, we were right back inside, amidst the beauty and wonder of Buddhas and trinkets, scarves, and beads, statues and carvings – on and on and on. Did I just hear Jose call out to Liz, "Darling … " as he summoned her to meet us? And there she was, extending her hand, smiling and greeting us emanating a relaxed and contented energy. She was quite happy to sign my book …
… and as she did, Jose poured us little paper cups of wine. I had a chance to relate to Liz that I had finished reading the book only two days prior to this trip, since I saw the movie first, and then read the book. I thanked her because the section written about India and the ashram seemed to have brought me back to yoga again in a deeper more fulfilling way. Winston and Jose loaded the precious, marble urn into our car, after once again we adjusted all our items to make room for the third and last purchase.
And off we went – back home. Only one more stop for ice-cream on the way, but I really could not wait to put everything in their places … but, especially, the urn.
… and so …
… as everything was put into place …
… life partner and I toasted each other with a glass of wine, and allowed all the beauty and joy of Two Buttons to bless our new home. Somehow, I feel, we will be back there again … and again …