I’m laying in the middle of a beautiful king-size bed, wrapped in its pure white damask comforter like an extremely posh burrito. The drone of a vacuum manned by the housekeeping staff is all that’s preventing my nap right now; my little boy is fast asleep in the metal crib they rolled in when we arrived.
I always use my husband’s pillow when he’s not here to nap with me. It smells like his skin and his hair. The smell of home, no matter where we are. We wake up with him at 5am, walk down the corridor to the complimentary breakfast, then come back to the room after he heads off to work. We read books, we play, we watch cartoons. We build an endless succession of towers using the same 4 blocks, each one ends up toppled by the same exaggerated ‘sneeze.’ Sometimes we heat up leftovers in our suite’s tiny kitchen, sometimes we smuggle muffins and yogurt back from the breakfast area for lunch instead. When Justin has to work late we walk down the street to Quizno’s for Eivin’s new obsession, bacon mac & cheese.
In the afternoon we go swimming. The little guy who panicked when I first walked into the cool water with him now leaps fearlessly into my arms from the side. He dips his face down to blow bubbles and kicks his feet furiously. We’re usually the only ones in the pool. When he’s had enough he gets one of the huge fluffy towels from a neat stack by the door and drapes it over his entire body, head and all. We walk back to our room for a shower and a few more block towers, or to turn on (and tune out) looped episodes of Disney Junior so my mind can wander.
This new pace has been so easy to adjust to, but is still so foreign. The slow monotony, the quiet. Sitting on the beautiful bed and crocheting while listening to music. Laying draped across the couch, staring out the window, thinking. Digesting and dissecting. Figuring things out while the distractions and responsibilities have been so greatly minimized.
I was sent off on this journey with homework; daily meditations and things to research, journal ‘assignments’ of sorts. Ways to strengthen my brain’s new wiring. Photo opportunities are everywhere; I have a thing with reflections and symmetry right now, and the brand new Tuscan-themed hotel has afforded lots of images to play with. We walk along the Columbia River when it’s not too hot, seeing kayaks and huge steam-powered river boats that seem to have escaped from the era of Mark Twain.
We spent a day driving through Mt. Rainier National Park followed by dinner in Tacoma at a seafood shack with frontage on the Puget Sound. Another item was scratched from my bucket list once I dipped my toes in. Strange pine trees whose needles were hung with moss like tinsel; a huge lump of jellyfish beached on the rocks, tiny intricate barnacles and knots of washed-up seaweed. The wide stretch of water wasn’t out of my ordinary, but just about everything else was.
Another day brought a hike through a canyon alongside a massive waterfall. We never got as close as we hoped, but the views we did see were more than enough. It was 95 degrees and the heat radiated from the rocks all around us; with sweat running into our eyes and making our shoes slip on our feet, we called it a day early.
Another quick trip to a small brewery on an island marina had some of the most beautiful sunset views I’ve ever seen. Splashed wide behind the silhouette of a statue, framed by trees and thick ferns while reflected off the river, high above a distant lighthouse. Boardwalks and jettys and boats of every shape and purpose.
Even while seeing things and doing things, I’m using the time to work on myself. I made huge headway in my ability to calm my anxiety and turn away from triggering situations whenever possible. Several instances arrived, and each was handled well. Most importantly, I found a way to put things- and people- completely behind me. The ability to lay relationships to rest permanently; to sever that attachment without looking back. No residual loyalty, no guilt. I’ve figured out how to do what I’ve never been able to accomplish before- I can now walk away without beating myself up over it. I’ve cut the ropes to several weights dragging in the water behind me, and I’m free.
There are so many projects around the homestead that I can’t wait to work on now. Fall is coming, Halloween, the slow turn of the year. We have new baby goats coming any day. Plans to loom knit cowls for my daughters and scarves for my sons, lighting the woodstove for the first time. There are endless opportunities that lay ahead now that I’m not trying to fix the past. History is just that- history. So much of it no longer matters. Today, tomorrow, and the next day matter so much more.