Friday, June 3, 2011

Waking Up with the Birds

It's six o'clock in the morning and I've been awake for nearly an hour. For those of you who know me well you're wondering what terrible life crisis has forced me from my bed at this unholy hour. I'm not what you'd call a morning person, you see, but jet lag and time changes can make a person feel confused and no matter how many pep talks I give myself I'm still crawling into bed by nine pm and waking up with the birds this week. It's the strangest thing, how normal this schedule suddenly feels.

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Now I must confess that the last four posts were written well in advance, nearly two weeks ago. In the days before I left for our Mediterranean cruise I worked late into the night, preparing things so I could drop out of my life for a while. Wait a minute, you might be thinking. I thought that's what happened six weeks ago when you first became sick with mono! Okay, that's true, life has been blurry and unfamiliar for weeks now, but packing a suitcase and leaving with your husband to fly to the other side of the world is a whole different type of dropping out of life. And infinitely preferrable, since we're being honest.

In addition to writing and scheduling my blog posts before leaving on my trip, I also had one of my spontaneous, marathon writing sessions with my manuscript. I work on it and revise isolated sections on a fairly consistent basis, but every six months or so I feel compelled to start on page one and work my way straight through to the very last page, re-writing as I go. It's a three or four day, labor intensive process, and I think sandwiching it between mono and my big trip might not have been the ideal time. But does spring cleaning ever happen at a convenient time? How many of us stay awake the nights before company is coming to town suddenly intent on re-organizing the linen closet or tidying up the junk drawer? I've had it in my mind that I wanted to do one intense comb-through of my manuscript before summer time arrives, and the days before my trip were my final chance.

And that is the last time I've written a single word. It's been two weeks of blank pages. I even bought a spiffy new notebook at Target for the express purpose of writing my wonderful, relaxed vacation thoughts, and outlining upcoming projects, but it remained unopened. What is the matter with me, I worried to myself a few days into the trip. All I want to do is sleep, eat, lie in the sun, and go sight-seeing at our port cities. There isn't one single part of me that feels like writing, or even getting up off my lounge chair except maybe to go get a twist cone.  

I endured the slight dig of self-reprimand for a few days, but eventually I settled on the certainty that I. was. exhausted. And then I stopped feeling guilty. I tossed my lovely new notebook back in the suitcase and stretched out in the sun like a cat on a windowsill. I had no where else I had to be, nothing I had to do, no one I needed to take care of, and that my friends, is what it means to be on vacation. And the peptalk that we all need once in a while is that we don't have to be ourselves all of the time. Neat freaks can leave their clothes strewn on the floor, social butterflies can take the phone of the hook, and everyday writers can go two weeks without touching a pen or a keyboard. I can't express how liberating it felt to do nothing. At the end of the trip my family gave me the "least amount of energy exerted" award, and I tucked it in my back pocket with sastisfaction.

Now that I'm back home, sitting in my bathrobe watching the rest of the world wake up outside my window, it feels slightly unnatural that I just went on the best trip of my entire life and I have nothing to show for it. No memories, deep thoughts, descriptions or anecdotes. But it's all there isn't it? Not crystal cut images, or detailed, lengthy pages containing the trip's entirety, but the most important images and impressions are there. The lemon colored bathroom tiles and crisp, white linens in Italy. The Venice skyline at sunset seen from the deck of the cruise ship. Passenger instructions being dictated over a loud speaker in five languages. The discouraged, slumped over feeling of Athens and the cobbled hallways of Croatia. The sweetest, purest fresh squeezed orange juice of my life in Turkey, a country that feels magical in its history, minaret-pierced skies, and handmade rugs. That really full feeling, like you've never laughed so hard, or enjoyed your family so much, and you could not eat another bite...well, maybe just one more bite.

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On our last evening in Italy we stayed at a bed and breakfast in a little town located two kilometeres from the Venice airport. Jeremy and I held hands as we strolled along the main street, buying olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the little grocery store, and pastries from the bakery to eat on the airplane the next day. For our last supper that night we feasted on grilled vegetables, pizza, gnocchi and chocolate mousse with mergingue. I took a long hot shower before packing my suitcase, and then flopped into bed feeling sleepy and contented. I missed my girls. I missed writing. I missed my life. I felt so ready to get back to my life. After weeks and weeks in bed with mono, culminating in this exquisite, once-in-a-lifetime trip, I finally felt ready. I am ready. I am rested. I am overwhelmed by the simple luxury of being awake and alive as the sun comes up and a new day begins.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you're back! And I can't stop thinking about that butler. Write a post about that!


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