This weekend while recovering from a nasty ant attack on my foot (my own stupid fault for going through a blackberry bush rather than around it) I was moved to pull a book off of my shelf I hadn’t looked at since 1998. Multitalented cartoonist Erika Lopez’ Flaming Iguanas. It’s about Tomato, a woman who does not have or know how to ride a motorcycle, who decides to take a cross country motorcycle trip. I remember feeling all “I am woman hear me roar” after reading it and being motivated to go on an adventure of my own.
I thought my sofa bound self would appreciate a book about a journey-metaphorical and physical. I began to plow into the book with gusto, feeling I was revisiting a best friend I hadn’t seen in ages. It’s a great story, it really is. I can see Tomato and me at the bar, slamming tequila shots and she’s telling me this crazy vacation story. But this second time around, I started to feel a bit annoyed at Lopez and Tomato. It’s a very stream of consciousness story and reading it now I feel like some of it may be a bit too intentional. I wanted to recall the wonder I felt when I first read it as a young woman right out of college. I wanted the book to fill me with motivation, shock, and awe. I still had some laughs, marveled at how Lopez could jump from therapy bashing to gay porn to sales circulars without missing a beat.
Then I started thinking about friends I’ve had in the past. Do you have those people in your life that stay for just a short period of time; for just a summer perhaps, or maybe as long as a year? Those temporary friends that may bring the crazy and the drama into your life. The friend who gets trashed, breaks bottles in a parking lot and shouts out unsolicited sexual advice to guys in the street. The friend who gets you up on that bar to dance. You may have the wildest, most awesome times together but if you really think about it, you know it isn’t going to last. I believe those friendships are there to teach us lessons and if we’re lucky, maybe give us some amazing stories to tell. if we try to revisit those frienships, even with rose colored glasses, it’s usually just awkward and not what we remember.
I am very much an “it’s all about the journey not the destination” type of person. I think maybe for Tomato it’s about the destination in disguise as tale about the journey. Tomato wants answers and is looking to discover herself. My disappointment isn’t fair because I should not have gone back expecting the same inspiration as the first time we met. Maybe her story was lightning striking at the right moment for me. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the story to anyone else who may need a little help finding themselves or want a few days of adventure. But for me, Flaming Iguanas may be a short-lived friend. I should have known when I never sought after her other books or kept her in mind when I visited a bookstore that our friendship wasn’t a lasting one. I needed her companionship then and we had one hell of a time, but not all friendships are forever.
On a sad note, the book inspired me to Google her and go to Erika’s clog (cartoonist’s blog, a clog, hahah). I found her announcement last week that she is retiring from the public cartoon, publishing, writing world. Hopefully the loss isn’t a permanent one.
Are there stories you love but are afraid to revisit for fear of your feelings changing about them or stories you have revisited and the love has faded?
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