I ran away again this week. I ran to a place on Lake Erie that Paul and I had visited more than ten years ago, because it’s the offseason and mid-week and therefore not prohibitively expensive for a place with a little piece of private beach.
I sat in one of the Adirondack chairs this morning and watched the colors change in the sunrise.
Lest that pretty picture tempt you into thinking everything was perfect — remember that nothing is the way it looks on Facebook — you should also know that the mosquitos were obsessed with my ankles, and none of the cottages have air conditioning. I hate to be hot, but I figured I’d be fine in October. I usually would, but as a friend of mine said the other day, we really need to call this month Augtober this year. So I arrived and the cottage was stuffy and hot in the way of old buildings in the late summer and the late evening, and I actually thought about driving home so I could get a good night’s sleep.
I did not go home. I stayed, and I sat around a fire later that evening with two people I’d never met and exchanged stories until it was late. By the time I picked my way carefully across the grass in the dark and opened the screen door of my cottage, it was cool inside.
I couldn’t write after dark because bugs were all over the light of my laptop screen, so when it was dark I read for a while and then went to bed. I took a couple of naps. I found a coffee shop that doesn’t look very interesting from the outside but inside looks as though you have wandered into the living room of someone who has excellent taste in comfy leather couches and doesn’t mind if you sit there half the day pecking away at your keyboard and nursing the caffeine they just happened to whip up for you. In case you dropped by.
I wrote a little. I read some things I’ve been wanting to read, not to improve myself or learn anything in particular, but just for the heck of it. It was nice. I enjoyed myself. But I felt a little guilty. I always feel a little guilty if I’m not being productive in some measurable way. I don’t know if that’s Swiss Anabaptist upbringing or current busy-ness culture or something else, but it’s embedded deep in my soul.
Paul called sometime during the second evening to discuss a kid thing. Runaway or not, I’m still Mom. I lay on the bed and watched the ceiling fan break up the pattern of the stucco as we talked it over. As we were winding down, he said, “You sound good.”
“I do?” I said. “How do I sound?”
“Just … good. Relaxed. Like you’re not worrying about the next thing.”
I’m not home yet. I’m sitting in that great coffeeshop I told you about. I really needed another one of their frozen white mochas. But I’m going to go home soon. Levi had a field trip today, and he was supposed to wear clothes appropriate for outdoors. I have no idea what he’s wearing. I have no idea what the house looks like. I don’t know if everyone remembered their lunches for the past two days while I’ve been gone. I don’t, heaven help me, know if they’ve changed their underwear in the last 48 hours.
And … it’s fine. If no one remembered their lunch today, they also won’t starve. Levi with neither freeze nor suffer heat stroke, no matter what fool thing he decided to wear on the way out the door. If the house is trashed, we’ll clean it up. But probably, all of those things happened on schedule anyway. (Except maybe the clean underwear.)
“Things happen without my direct supervision,” I texted my sister yesterday. “Who knew?” It feels good to let my shoulders descend from somewhere up around my ears. Seems I sound good that way, too.
Lifelong habits are hard to break. I cannot promise that I will stop supervising everything and worrying myself silly over whatever the next thing is.
But I will try.