It’s been a while since I got out of town. We, because I don’t travel alone anymore. And I don’t mean to another town or the big city, because we’ve done that plenty in recent months. I mean out of town.
This past weekend was the first long weekend in February for us around these parts–Family Day–definitely reason enough to celebrate. Except we weren’t together. DH took the opportunity to go back-country skiing with some other dads (their chances are few; we mums totally get it) and Little e and I were invited to Powell River to visit a friend’s relatives. I’d never been, but I did know it’s a smaller place than our town and has rain forest magic galore. It didn’t disappoint.
But the thing that struck me about slowing down and being somewhere small, somewhere quiet, was the stillness. Not just around me (and there were several whirl-winds-come-toddlers keeping things energetic) but inside me. I found myself awake at night in the cabin, the fire almost down to embers, the blackness total, a half-dreaming, mumbling little girl pushing her face into my neck, and my thoughts went in all directions. Which, I know, is the opposite of stillness, but it felt like the stillness of everything else was making me restless. Like my mind was in withdrawal from the usual loud, distracting hum of life and didn’t know what to do.
The next morning, thinking back to the travels my mind made in the night, it seemed almost farcical. I hope I’m not the only one whose mind goes to near-schizophrenic places in the wee hours. But I was still unsettled. Still, and unsettled. What was I doing with my writing life? Was it enough? Where did we really, really want to live? And how?
As surreal and uncomfortable as that experience was, it has been incredibly useful. Thank Powell River. It will be meat (tofu?) to chew on for the next weeks and months as DH and I discuss (some of) these important problems. Isn’t it always a balance that’s not quite right? I don’t know anyone who has it all perfectly balanced.
In any case, the winter beauty of the Sunshine Coast (ironic, yes: no sun all weekend) helped to bring some poetry to the visit, and I found myself inspired despite all the mental turmoil. I’m being challenged by my current WIP, my confidence is sagging, my identity as a writer is a big question in my mind. But it’s all okay. By necessity, it has to be.
(Especially because before we left for home, I found a bakery that makes the most amazing butter tarts. Chocolate ones, nutty ones, plain old buttery, caramelly perfect ones. Sorry there’s no photo, but rest assured, I will be pilgrimaging there again.)
So I guess what I mean to say is that while it’s been a while since I got out of town, it’s been even longer since I got out of mind. And clearly, doing that is a healthy, if disconcerting, habit.