For most of my working life, it's been really hard for me to take more than a long weekend off at a time. I'm going to attribute most of this to a brand of self-importance that I'm hoping was unique to the first part of my twenties. The "things will fall apart if I don't keep checking my email" complex.
Have you done this to yourself? Had yourself so thoroughly convinced that the Apocolypse might come that you couldn't check out? It's ridiculous. If the year has taught me nothing else, it's the power of a good step back and a change of scenery. And the fact that the world won't fall apart if I step away a minute but I most certainly will.
No more sleeping next to the Blackberry. No more rolled over vacation days. No one ever told me that I needed to stretch myself thin. As luck would have it, the opposite is true. I've replied to notes from vacation and gotten "Oh my God gotothebeachalready" for a response. It was ego. Sometimes it still is. That and the perpetual fear of getting organized (why unpack when I can repurpose?).
The good news is that I'm getting better at figuring out tipping points- work and personal life alike. There's a place I can go where the noise falls behind me and what's left of it ebbs to a very different pattern. I packed my suitcase and headed toward salt.
The first day I was just happy to be in the northeast but it's been a long few weeks and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to just being exhausted. The day itself was perfect though. The sky looked like a Pantone swatch and we rode to Duxbury with our wine and rowdies.
Brother had orchestrated an outing to the Island Creek Oyster Festival and we slurped and cracked and seasoned our way through hundreds of them. We tempered their salt with whatever was at hand but the best of it was called sangria flora. I bought a bottle of St-Germain as soon as I got home but that's probably beside the point.My brother is 3 weeks into solo living and every once and awhile I broke away from the merry band just to look back at him within the life he's made. It changes just like mine does but it's good and it made me really happy to watch it. I have friends having babies now who will be close in age like Brother and I. I'm happy for them, too.
The next day was a slow start. The kind where my eyes were still dancing out a bit of the rhythm from the records the night before. Not wholly unpleasant but requiring brunch. We walked across the street and then I was deposited at the South End Market to wander. I got really lucky in my wandering.
Not only did I hit the art jackpot but Chelsee was already en route and it meant I'd get an excpetionally stylish strolling buddy for the afternoon at Boston's best flea market. Of course most of our photos are of produce. Proof positive that time and again something as unromantic as the Internet can deliver you to your people. I love that even when I leave Boston, I know I have a little smidge of a life that stays there.
My next stop was the quiet place everyone keeps in their heads somewhere. Occasionally buried, but never that deep. Welcome to a long walk at low tide on First Encounter beach. I wish you could smell this. It's entirely possible that some of you can.
My walking companion. She smells pretty great, too. Like home. The weather held itself in that very September place, perfectly suspended between summer fall. It's not like we laid about all day, we didn't. We went to the seafood market, the roadside stand, the galleries that dot the marsh in Wellfleet. We even made it over to Nantucket for a day and returned to a feast from my father.
This be him. I couldn't tell you the last time I spent a string of days just hanging out with my parents in a place that feels like home. No gifts to wrap or people to entertain. Just us. I had my space when I wanted it and company when I needed it. My dad and I even got into some of the big picture stuff.
"When you're ready to meet someone, I think you should be looking where you already have interests," said Dad. " You like to cook, you like music but you have other interests too. For example, you're really into science fiction and fantasy novels. They have conferences for that kind of thing."
Dad is now rolling his eyes that that's been recounted. We took a long bike ride and I thought about what character from Game of Thrones I would most likely be drawn to if he appeared at Comic Con next year. By the way, I've already finished the second installment in the Song of Ice and Fire series and if you are also an unapologetic geek with an overactive imagination, it's the series for you. Just keep your hands off Jon Snow, he's mine.
We did a lot of cooking as well so I'll start with the first apple pie of the season (try and feign some surprise). I had one more peach pie in me upon returning to the Midwest but biting through apples with cinnamon made for a very happy harbinger of what was to come.
Potatoes on one side with rosemary, butternut squash on the other with sage. A very happy roasting pan.
My best foot forward, made up on a whim and held there. Peaches sauteed with white wine, shallots, slivered almonds and thyme then laid on top of crostinis spread with a little goat cheese. I will refrain from really saying "Just peachy" but I am thinking it loudly. The actual recipe is up on Tumblr.
By the end of the trip, I was a lot more than a shadow. I was slept and fed and freckled and loved in a place that actually knows how to love back. That's what I did on my fall vacation.