I began the morning with an intense focus on last minute things. This was because I required the intensity, not because the things needed it. If I did not train my brain into focus, it wanted to wander around the house thinking maudlin thoughts about each and every thing I touched. I really don’t need to contemplate that this is the last time I’ll touch my regular hairbrush for a week. (I have a smaller brush I use for travel.) I made sure to hug my kids and tell them I loved them. I left enough cookies behind for a week’s worth of lunches. Then I got in the car and focused all my thoughts toward getting myself onto the right plane.
As the plane launched into the sky, I wanted a distraction, something to turn my brain off for the next four hours. Instead I began my writer’s retreat. I pulled out my laptop, I read my study materials, I let these things swirl in my brain and made notes on the mixtures and combinations that resulted. I had thoughts about how my 90% complete SWH draft was aimed in the wrong direction, so I knocked it back to 65% to try again. I observed some of the story techniques that I want to use in my magical realism book and some that I did not. I wrote a letter to one of my kids (remaining letters to be written before the mail comes tomorrow) and noted how the slow and contemplative nature of a handwritten letter changed the way I was thinking about that child and my relationship with him. These may be the first of many letters over the next years. On the ground in Atlanta I noted how empowering it is to be able to find my own way through an airport and onward to my destination without anyone there shepherd me. While waiting at the shuttle drop off point for my ride I contemplated how far I was away from home, and noted how that distance was affecting a portion of my emotional landscape. Then I arrived at a house that has been lived in and loved for three generations, you can see it in all the details. I want to wander everywhere and look at everything. Instead I made the acquaintance of some of the other writers over a late dinner. And now I am here, on my computer, in the familiar little piece of internet home that I brought with me.
Oh, you thought I meant physical travel. That part was pretty boring. It involved sitting in a too small space on a crowded airplane and a too small space in a shared airport shuttle. But the enforced stillness gave time for my thoughts to slow down, expand, pay attention to longer thoughts. It is like the difference between watching the ocean and watching a stream. Both are lovely in their own ways, but different.
For tonight, I finish my trip by settling in to sleep. In the morning I’ll have daylight to look around the woods.