Friday, April 16, 2010

A Gift of a Writing Weekend

After another crazy work week, I'm off for two and a half days of a much-anticipated retreat. In a couple of hours, I will be heading to Mendocino with my friend Christi to stay two nights at a cabin. We met three years ago when a writers' group was being formed in Cloverdale, and have become best friends. She is working on a novel about a young American woman who ends up in Germany just before World War II, marries a German man, and then finds herself alone with young children while he goes off to fight. My own writing has been sadly neglected in recent weeks, and needs a kick start.

I just got back from the grocery store, stocking up on easy-to-fix food. The plan is to hole up in the cabin, and write, write, write. It will also be the first time that we have ever been able to spend such a long time together, uninterrupted. Christi is a mother of two grade school children and a full-time high school teacher, and between our relationship/family obligations and work schedules, we're usually lucky to eke out about two hours at a time. So the conversations on the drive and over meals, etc., are another thing we're looking forward to.

This is something I have to thank my partner, Sabrina, for. After my writing retreat in New Mexico last summer, I rather wistfully mentioned one day that Christi and I needed to do something like that. Sabrina jumped on it immediately and said, "Do it! Make it happen! Even if it's only for a weekend." So, with her support and encouragement, we managed to figure out our schedules, find the perfect place, and this weekend it's finally going to become a reality.

It's partially fulfilling a fantasy of mine that I've had ever since reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea." The book is about relationships - primarily about marriage/love relationships, but also about motherhood and friendships. The section that spoke most strongly to me is in the section "Argonauta," where she describes spending a week at a cabin with her sister, and "a perfect day."

The perfect day, as she delineates it, involves the natural, right combination of everything: a morning swim, hot coffee and breakfast, shared morning chores. Then to work, in separate rooms, writing, all morning. Coming together at lunch, the relief of social contact. In the afternoon, errands, then a long walk on the beach. Evening is a return to warmth and intimacy, sharing the chores of preparing supper, and having deep, long conversations. Before bed, once again, a walk on the beach, under the stars. Then "back again to our good child's sleep."

What Lindbergh finds so perfect in the day is the freedom - it is not cramped in space or time, and is not limited in kinds of activity. There is a balance in physical, intellectual and social life. She says, "Work is not deformed by pressure. Relationship is not strangled by claims. Intimacy is tempered by lightness of touch. We have moved through our day like dancers, not needing to touch more than lightly because we were instinctively moving to the same rhythm."

So, that is what I hope to capture this weekend. A natural balance, moving easily from work to conversation to preparing meals to walks to sleep.

I'll let you know Sunday night how it works out. Happy weekend.

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