This week I am writing to you from the sandy haven of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. In an effort to maintain my sanity before plunging head first into a fall semester of insanity, we take our vacation as soon as the tourists are gone from the Cape. There are no packed beaches and hour long waits at local eateries. There are still tableside conversations about shark sightings, but the water is now at 65 degrees and although we may get our feet wet, and even plunge one time, we won’t be swimming with the sharks. Local fishermen pack the bayside and they drive onto the dunes to rake oysters from the shallows before the tide comes in.
As we savored pumpkin ale for the first time of the season, I watched the sun set at about seven something…but I can’t say for sure because I didn’t bring a watch. Nor did I leave my cell phone on for most of the day. Nor did I check emails or social networking or anything that resembles connectivity to beach-less life. Despite lower temperatures and sparse traffic (precisely why I love this time of year for vacation) there was an instant relaxation wave that hit me as we crossed over the Bourne Bridge yesterday afternoon. This wave will now stay for the next seven to ten days…or else!
When in vacation mode, all I think about is where to go for that massage, who is renting bicycles and what time is yoga tomorrow. Sampling seafood delights from scallops and mussels to oysters and lobster, local wine flowing freely and sunny breezes kissing my upturned face; this is where I want to be. Not just here, but here in this state of mind—heavenly. It isn’t even fair that there isn’t another one of these till next summer—maybe spring if we are lucky—but worth every minute of the wait for the calm. As for winter, maybe a snowboarding trip or two to burn off the adrenaline that builds as we get house crazy and wait for the flowers to grow.
The nicest part about being away just might be that I can take my coffee outside in the morning and open my book (in sweats, sans onlookers) and not worry about how long it will take to get to a certain page. I can also rest assured that when I visit one of the three charming bookshops that I plan to seek out this week (by bicycle whenever possible) I will pick up Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her along with whatever they are serving up from the wide range of local authors. That’s right—indies on vacation too!
There seems to always be a tale of lighthouse lore or seaside suspense that reels me in to peruse its pages on the sand. The coolest part of this is that many of the authors live nearby, welcome connecting via email and appreciate when people actually tell them that an intrigued reader has just picked up their life’s work at their hometown bookstore that they hoped to see it sold in someday. This is finally their someday. As a writer, I know I would love to hear from a visitor to the Staten Island Barnes and Noble, or better yet Strand’s miles of books, or any of the zillion NY/NJ stores in which I’ve lovingly shopped for the ideal next pages to embrace.
I won’t be reading for anything other than sheer enjoyment. Syllabi are nestled in their snug little course shells, textbooks back in New Jersey and I have a loaded Nook and am ready to browse tomorrow. Now that’s what I call vacation. No planned activities that start at a certain time (except at a spa so whatever!) and no interruptions to the process of thinking-writing-daydreaming love that has enveloped me now. Weeks like this one are what I need to get by. With the everyday grind looming ahead, it’s comforting to know that I can indulge a bit longer.
Whether on a beach in Cape Cod or a park in Manhattan, I have all I need: my guy, my dogs, and lots of pages to read. That said, I think it’s awesome that I went to a jazz festival/grape stomp at the local winery today while wearing a hoodie. I think that it’s fine that it might not be laying on beach blanket weather unless I have long pants on. Enjoying pumpkins and corn on the roadside stands rather than spreading fifty proof sunblock on my pale countenance, driving to P-Town and buying bulk tea when we’ve had our fill of art and appetizers, and running on wet sand with our four legged little buddies—these are joys that make life worth all the work it takes to get here.
So when I go back to teaching and learning, and embark on new journey number two billion, I will be taking a slice of this wonderland with me. Once inner peace finds me I am not likely to let it go too easily. In fact, it will need to be pried from my cold dead hands.
If you vacation you can have peace too.
Yes, that was the whispery voice from Field of Dreams that says “If you build it they will come.”
In fact you don’t actually need a vacation to get where you want to be (for me that would be shoulders down, words spewing forth onto paper and ready to get this puppy in print within a year). You just have to keep your goals in sight and press on—but before you do, take a break. Eat sushi outside. Walk in the park as the sun comes up. Go fishing with your best friend and leave your phone home. Whatever you do, just be sure to do it more than once a year.
Just keep breathing.
I am far from rich and I don’t currently travel as much as I would like, but I do savor each moment that I can sit quietly with a book and dangle my feet in the bay. OK maybe not that part because there was a shark scare, but I know that taking a minute to stop and breathe is something that everyone needs. Perhaps one day I will have my own getaway at my disposal with my time to spend however I like. Till then, books take me away. Chamomile keeps me grounded and the pups keep me jogging towards whatever is next.
Don’t forget to breathe.
What’s next? Who knows, but it will look better from the other side of the bay. I’m getting on the boat. Are you?