I’m off. Off for close to two weeks. Off on a road trip to attend a writer’s conference in an enticing place I’ve never been to before. Completely free of obligations and responsibilities to another person.
Right now I’m on a ferry. It’s nothing but a transit ferry, but it feels to me like a luxury liner. I’m sitting on deck on a nice, sunny morning as the ship cruises across the water. There aren’t many passengers, so the atmosphere is calm and quiet. The wind blows my hair and through my shirt, making my laptop screen sway and forming goosebumps on my arms and legs. Other people sit and stare into the distance. I’m so excited to have time to pull out my travel guidebooks, open a book, and write – uninterrupted. Unfortunately, some work assignments still hang over my head. But for the next 10 days or so, there is no household work to be done, and no new work assignments to take on. It’s time for me to learn, observe, interact and develop.
Part of it has come from the inevitable stress that accompanies leaving town for a period of time. But for the past few weeks, I’ve felt under constant obligation – running to try to finish work, household and social obligations, while compensating for that by reducing time spent on the things I enjoy – sleep, exercise, reading and writing. Now it’s time for me to slow down a bit. Or even if I keep up the speed, spend the time doing things I’m passionate about.
Even the upcoming hours alone on the highway seem appealing. I have Orhun Pamuk’s Snow on CD and the freedom to listen and think without interruptions, without having to attend to anyone else’s needs.
Not to say that I won’t miss my family. Dropping off Mark and River with relatives yesterday, I saw how River lit up under the attentions of his three older, female cousins. He was the center of the family, the center of the universe as far as he’s concerned, and it made him laugh and giggle, spread kisses all around, and become the entertainer. I will miss him and I regret not being there for the family time. But still, this is pretty great.
Mark reminds me that this isn’t a vacation. It cost a lot and is for my professional development. He’s right. But still, at the moment it feels very freeing.