I felt tiny pricks of guilt now and again. Leaving the kids home with their college-age brother who would be more interested in doing his computer project than supervising chores. Supporting the conversion of a former farming community into a seacoast tourism locale. Hanging that “Privacy; do not disturb” sign on our door.
The condo suite my husband chose online turned out to be a winner. Village by the Sea in Wells Beach sits right up on the salt flats, which are brown and dry during low tide, but sparkling and afloat with sea fowl at high. We had the whole resort largely to ourselves when we arrived mid-week, but on Friday afternoon it began to fill up with families. (I guess we aren’t the only ones to figure out winter is the time to visit the seacoast!)
Our second floor apartment had a kitchen-diningroom-livingroom configuration, and two bedrooms. Two bathrooms, too! And the best–a fireplace. I don’t know what it is about flickering flame and radiant heat, but it sure beats woodstoves for aesthetics. (Should I tell you this? The front desk had to send a maintenance guy over to show us how to turn on this propane fire. We didn’t know all it took was a twist of the thermostat! We told the amused fellow we knew all about firewood but were stumped by this fireplace.)
Would it surprise anyone to know my sweetie and I harbor a secret desire to write? He has been working on a novel every anniversary trip for about five years now. Two days of writing, then put it away for a year. But I guess he is always thinking, because he has worked out the intricate plots. It takes place in pre-Flood Adamland, and involves the politics of the highly developed precious metals mining and manufacture. I think. I know it follows the girl who will become Shem’s wife.
I, on the other hand, worked on a short story. As a tutor for 13 and 14 year olds working our way through an awesome program, I assign a short story for the spring semester. Last year, when I was busy day and night learning this program, writing my own story was the last thing I wanted to do, but now I think I can manage it. “All I need,” I told myself, “is a few hours to write the rough draft.” Once I got the basic story line down, I could squeeze in time for revisions.
So, we had a writer’s retreat, with that pesky “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to keep out the distraction of a vacuum cleaning maid. For hours we sat three feet away at the table, he typing at his laptop and I writing with fountain pen in a notebook.
I faced the window and had a good view of the tidewater swelling the marsh until the snowfield just in front of us was awash. My favorite sight was of two sets of Canada geese standing on ice floes that cruised right to left with the current. At low tide their magic carpets lay jumbled together, grounded.
It took two days to write my story, and on the third night I read it to my guy. Big mistake. Even though we knew it was the roughest of the rough, it just came off as icky. “Write what you know,” right? Well, this sounded like a whine from beginning to end. Ha! It’s all right, though; at least I have a structure. Real writing happens in the rewrites, and already I have ideas to rescue it from utter predictability.
So, we retreated from our regular work in order to create and recreate. No Internet access meant we couldn’t get sucked into that dark hole. No emails, no news, no weather. Just ourselves, a creative project, and the giddy sensation of having shrugged off our heavy responsibilities. It was sweet. Home now, we are picking up the reins that make our waking hours gallop with the thrill of near catastrophe and plod with the mind-numbing tedium.
At night my dreams will be of moonlit ocean, and of wise old geese sunning themselves on a floating island, going with the floe.