“Dad said you ran away.”
“I mean, not forever – just for a few days.”
“I know. Is it nice?”
Short version? A friend invited me to escape for a little while, and I said yes. And even though (a blessedly mild case of) COVID came home with me, it was a transformative trip for which I’m eternally grateful.
When I prepared for the trip, I had massive ambitions about what I would do with the time. I stocked the kindle full of books, downloaded podcasts, and mapped out the writing I was going to do. I stashed that kindle and my laptop, along with workbooks and notebooks and lists, in my otherwise sparely packed carryon.
Only some subconscious, protective part of me neglected to pack charging cables. Or pens.
My first reaction, upon discovering that “mistake” was to look on Amazon and see how quickly an order could arrive at our remote location. No, not kidding.
My second reaction, after the panic wore off was: Oops. And I let it all go.
The best part of the whole experience was getting to be myself, just me, for the first time in more than 20 years. I wasn’t wife me or mother me or creative strategist me. Just me.
I didn’t read or write a damned thing. I walked, slept, worked a puzzle, and enjoyed companionable conversations that had nothing to do with my family or work. We drank coffee in the mornings and wine at sunset, watching the storms roll through and the tide swell and shrink.
And I cooked – my very favorite kind of improvisational cooking, using whatever’s in the kitchen at the time.
I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow, as I carefully and selectively resume the things that I want to keep doing, including writing/posting, with renewed resolve to let the rest go. Yes, I’m going to resume the posts about the ever-elusive work/life balance, too. As I wrote a month ago, rest is part of the work, though I had no idea how deep my rest-deficit really was until I really checked out for a little while. More on that another day.
For today, I’ll leave you with the beach photos, a peek at the beach-inspired paintings I’ve been working on since I returned home from running away, and a few links to enjoyable things I’ve read, listened to, or watched this month.
Dan Harris interviewing Esther Perel about friendships and how to nurture them (might be my favorite Esther Perel interview of all, and that’s saying something because she’s never not a treasure to listen to).
Midnight Riot: Rivers of London, Book 1, by Ben Aaronovich (audiobook): It’s like Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes.
Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel (audiobook): It’s like 12 Monkeys, A Wrinkle in Time, and any classic hero’s journey story, all in one.
Circe, by Madeline Miller (audiobook): I read this a couple of years ago and am listening to it now because my book group is reading — enjoying it even more the second time. Like John Gardiner’s Grendel, it’s a classic tale told from the “monster’s” point of view instead of the “hero’s” perspective.
The Gray Man, by Mark Greaney (yes, from Memphis!) (wanted to read this before watching the Netflix version – though it’s really hard to resist watching, because … Ryan Gosling…) (also, this is a classic summer reading kind of book)
(Yes, that’s the only reading link; when I checked out for most of July, I actually checked out.)
No, I don’t often post links to TV shows or movies because I don’t enjoy watching television, even when a movie is on. But I decided some restful TV binge-watching was appropriate for COVID recovery, so I climbed in my son’s bed with the cat (yes, we have a cat, who lives in exile…) and watched:
Gaslit, in which Sean Penn is transformed into that nasty snake of the 1970s, John Mitchell. It’s intense and timely. (On Starz – requires subscription, but you can watch the whole series in one week’s free trial)
Dublin Murders (also on Starz). Rob Reilly is one of my favorite characters of any police crime/whodunit story, and Tana French (whose writing genre a friend dubbed “elevated airport fiction”) is one of my favorite police crime/whodunit writers. This TV series deftly combines French’s first two Dublin Murder Squad books, In the Woods and The Likeness into a riveting production that kept me up way past bedtime. I might even watch it again, and I’m holding out hope that Starz/BBC will make the right choice and produce/release a season 2. If you haven’t read (or listened to) the series of books, then you’re in for a treat.