It has been a day since I got back from a week of solitude. I am firmly back in the grind, laundering clothes, cooking, cleaning, washing the kids’ hair, and meal planning. It hit me with force when I lay down for a nap in the late afternoon, how easy it is to slip right back in and how much effort it takes to disconnect.
The day I landed at The Porches, a writer’s retreat in rural Virginia run by Trudy Hale, I unpacked, took in my surroundings, and retired to my room. All evening through the time I actually slept, I found myself teary or bawling for apparently no reason. I slept well, woke the next day with all intentions of writing. Instead, I picked up a book on predictive astrology I had packed – The Eagle and the Lark by Bernadette Brady and read. I haven’t read anything in over a year. I was amazed that I could actually focus. I slept like a log that afternoon and again at night.
The next morning, two days after I reached The Porches, with just two days left of my stay, I found my muse. When I wrote, the words poured forth. I wrote in bursts, refusing to edit as I went. I chopped words, expanded on themes, I deleted, retyped, and deleted again. I walked around the tiny room I was in on the third floor of the lovingly restored home. It was named The Jade room. The accents were all in the color of Jade. There was an eclectic collection of books, vintage hutches, tiny chests that housed blankets, a fireplace replete with a broom nearby. I walked on the aged, threadbare rug noticing tiny bugs that had made their way inside.
The characters morphed inside my head. They revealed motivation, they grew as people. They told me their stories until my head was a cacophony of voices. I talked to my friend Shabnam each day over lunch and dinner. We exchanged tidbits of the characters who inhabited our minds. Sometimes, we heated the food we brought from home. Some days, we cooked from scratch, savoring the food warm from the stove. We had other writer guests join us occasionally. I practiced my astrology on willing people.
A day before we were to head back home, I felt I had done what I had set out to accomplish – make some things messy, unknot unwanted connections and sit with hard emotions. The morning we left, I was still furiously reading through what I had written afresh. The word count of my manuscript did not alter drastically belying the work that had gone in.
Just as I put my laptop in and zipped the case, tears sprung afresh.
On the way back home, I realized the trip away from home nurtured my soul. It showed me how much weight my shoulder bore. The pandemic has had its invisible toll in the anxiety that sat in coils, deeply compressed, waiting for release. The time away showed me how much I showed up for my family, each day, day in, day out. Caregiving takes its toll. I thought I would miss home, miss my spouse, miss my children. I did not. I was glad for the time away from them, time away to recognize the things that were just me. It helped me sit with the fact that there will soon be a time when caregiving will no longer be this arduous physical thing I do. It will transform into mental gymnastics I play each day. It reminded me that self-care is the best kind of love.
With the time away to nourish my soul, nurture my muses and let the creative juices flow, I am now back to the grind, a little less resentful, a little happier to see the people who mean much to me. I enjoy sleeping in my bed and not having to swat away flies. Most of all, I am looking forward to my next trip away.