I just came back from a week out of the country.
Travelling is certainly a process. The packing and worries that precede the trip, the organizing of documents and transportation in the country. Contacting friends and family and arranging lodging. Everything takes time and in many ways, the stress of planning a trip can sometimes prevent someone from going.
Leaving the country is a bit more complicated then, say, taking a weekend retreat, especially when it cuts you off from social media and email and pretty much what you consider “your world.” I knew that life was carrying on, but for that one week, I was not only in a different time zone, but a completely different dimension. In fact, when I stumbled onto an internet cafe and frantically posted a random tweet, I felt like I had sent out a message to the world. A futile, “I am still here!” to anyone who cared.
Getting away from the routine is definitely beneficial. Without a computer (I had broken my laptop just before leaving, and left the iPad with the kids) I found myself writing the old-fashioned way. I had a pen and paper and since I was running on only my schedule, I could sit at all hours and write. The moon and the stars looked the same as they did in NY, but looking at them from an ancient stone wall was magical. It was transforming. And I wanted to write. Not for a blog, or a magazine, or a review site. This time, I was writing strictly for myself. For my own eyes. And I loved what came out.
This trip wasn’t just a getaway – I was going to my niece’s wedding – but since it was the first time in a long time that I was on my own, with no responsibilities except to myself, I was able to refocus my priorities. To really spend time for me.
And maybe that’s why I loved what I had written.
It was good to come back home after a week, but try as I might, I could not get that feeling back again. I went outside, under the same moon and stars, and continued writing in the notebook I had started across the ocean. But it was like trying to get back into a dream after you’ve already awoken. Like Coleridge trying to get back to Xanadu and Kubla Khan.
I tucked the notebook away with my old journals and stories. It’s a good story. A solid piece of writing. I have always been the most critical when it comes to my writing and so I was surprised by my own response. And even more surprised that I didn’t want to show it to anyone else. It was a piece of that place and time. Returning to “real life” makes a vacation seem unreal. It becomes a distant memory within hours of landing in JFK. I’ll have pictures and video to show my family, but this notebook is mine alone.
But yes, it is good to be back home.