Lili Wright is a thirty-something woman on the emotional lam. Faced with a choice between two men--Stuart, the steady veterinarian, and Peter, the dreamy writer--she climbs into her car and leaves them both behind.
With only a borrowed dog named Brando for company and a map of twelve states in her pocket, Lili sets out on a road trip, hoping that by setting herself in motion she will find a way to settle down. Charting a course from Cadillac Mountain in Maine to the faded glory of Key West, Florida, she camps out on beaches and crashes on couches, in sketchy motels and even in a cop's trailer. She travels not only south, but also back in time, trying to figure out why previous relationships with a Nantucket waiter, a French tennis clown, a Utah ski bum, and others flared and fizzled.
Along the way, Lili meets a string of unlikely gurus, including a well-worn shrimper, a vegan astrologer, and even a woman who marries herself. These and other unassuming strangers offer offbeat wisdom and guidance as Lili struggles to understand the nature of love, the voodoo of sex, and how couples can settle down without settling for. Between adventures, Lili tackles tough questions: Why does everything love touches turn risky? Does staying with the same person mean staying the same? Where does love come from, and where does it go? By journey’s end, this restless traveler begins to see how she can share her life with just one other person, and how love, like water, can make a body float.
Lili Wright’s engaging memoir from the road updates the tradition of the picaresque traveler’s tale. With unflinching honesty and refreshing wit, she captures the torn emotions, comic misfires, and inevitable trade-offs felt by young people everywhere.
About the Author
Lili Wright spent ten years as a journalist in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Utah, and Mexico. Her work has appeared in newspapers nationwide, including the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun. A graduate of Columbia University’s M.F.A. program, she currently teaches creative writing and journalism at DePauw University and lives in Greencastle, Indiana, with her husband and daughter.
"Following Lili Wright as she floats from one seaside town to another is an invitation to break from our stodgy existences and experiment with adventure in our own lives. A must read, for not only the thirty-something crowd but those of us way beyond."
-- Joan Anderson, author of A Year by the Sea and An Unfinished Marriage
"With ribald candor, Lili Wright charts the treacherous territory between the desire for emotional connection and the safety of cavalier independence. Learning to Float is an incredibly smart, brave, and honest book about a woman trying to come to her senses."
--Ken Foster, author of The Kind I'm Likely to Get
"The joy of this book is the combination of fearless self-confrontation and the freedom of the open road. Lili Wright did what so many women dream of: She drove away from her relationships, had adventures, and lived to tell the tale in a funny, honest, and fascinating book."–Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy and The Solace of Leaving Early
“Romantic confusion has never been as much fun as this trip down the east coast in Lili Wright's Mazda. Learning to Float is witty, touching, endlessly charming, and as human as a face in a snapshot.”–Luc Sante author of Low Life