Friday, January 28, 2011

Long Stretches of Silence

The Lobby of the Palace Hotel

Guilty pleasures.  This one was hard for me. I have a quote from an allergy cookbook, of all things. The author said "Do wrong or feel guilty. Life is too short to do both." I never once used a recipe from that book, but those two lines alone were worth the twenty bucks I paid for it.

After a week of seeing what my fellow word-whores would admit to, I realized that my guilty pleasure is running away from home.

Weird, right? Yes, I play World of Warcraft and it is a pleasure. No guilt involved. My husband plays, too. We're a formidible gaming pair. DPS gnomes all the way. We both read voraciously. No guilt involved - we're learning something, right? Okay. I suppose there's a moment of guilt when we walk out of a bookstore four hundred dollars poorer. . .Hi, my name's Marcella and I'm a book addict. Still don't feel guilty.

But running away from home? Oh yeah. It's a pleasure loaded with guilt. Don't get me wrong. I adore my family, the whole big, messy lot. (No calling to ask if *you're* the messy one I'm refering to - we've all been there.) It's just that when you're immersed in the give and take of family life - dishes, lunches, who broke what, 'Mom, where's my. . .' and 'OMG, I'm going to lie in wait for my coworker in the company garage just so I can run over his toes. . .', it's hard to carve space out for yourself.  As much as I love my husband, my felines, my parents, my in-laws, my sister and her family and all of my friends, there's an irresponsible part of me that craves long stretches of empty time, silence, and responsibility to no other living thing besides myself.

I suspect that's true for most of us. At least, I hope that's the case. I'd hate to be the only whack job on the website. The venial guilty pleasures: an hour or two of TV, a few chapters from a well-worn, much loved book, a couple of PUGs mowing through ICC in World of Warcraft, represent for each of us a respite from what everyone else in our lives needs from us. We grab an hour here or there and stitch together the frayed edges of sanity thereby. But there comes a time when only mortal guilty pleasures (like abandoning one's family for a few days) will do. When the pressure has built past a certain point, I feel stretched thin, like that onion paper your school secretary used to use with carbon paper (for those of you old enough for that image). When that happens, my head is filled with constant noise. I can't see. I can't think. I can barely feel. I sure as hell can't write. The only cure is running away from home. Responsibly.

My husband and I sit down with our schedules. We agree on three or four days for my disappearing act. I go to the same place each time (because I love the place). The Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, Washington. Port Townsend is an enclave of artists, aging hippies and farmers. The town was one of Washington's first seaports. Many of the buildings date from the Victorian era. The Palace is one such building. It's been many things in its history, including a brothel. Thus, I feel right at home.

Time has no meaning when I run off to the Palace. I wake when I want. Eat if I want. Or not. Walk the streets. No. Not like that. We're *word* whores. The point of the exercise is to empty out, to give up being so many things to so many other people, if only for a little while. For the time that I'm away, I get to devolve. I can put off the mantle of wife, kitty mom, daughter, sister, and friend. I'm just me. Alone. Out on adventure. Seeing things I'd never otherwise see. I'm the alien observer my wretched schoolmates used to accuse me of being in junior high. Not that I'm bitter. Anymore. After all, most of them have already died very messy deaths in my stories. Yeah. That's another pleasure. And no. I don't feel guilty about that one at all.


  1. I *love* that you do this, claim days wholly and solely for you. I get it. Sometimes you just have to have a few days to reconnect with yourself.

    You'll have to do better than that to be an ostracized nutter among your fellow WORD whores.

  2. Fantastic, Marcella! Well put. The quote from the book kicks ass, as does your no-guilt attitude.

  3. I think that your retreat is fabulous. Two thumbs up for claiming your space and taking a breather!

  4. I love the underhanded "that they'll admit to" remark there.

    But I *so* feel you on the quiet, uninterrupted time. Paradise.

  5. I think it is so cool that you actually do this. I've thought about it, but there are always reasons not to take the time, or spend the money, or whatever. And yet I am perfectly able to take the time or spend the money when some excuse comes up.
    I think I'm adding this to my list of things to do in the next few months. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. I'm terrible about taking any sort of vacation/retreat for myself, but I think I probably should.

    I just get into this "worker bee" mode and if I'm not doing something "productive" every spare moment, I feel like I'm wasting my time.


  7. LOL, Jeffe - like Kerry says. No one's had the guts to mention sex. So we're all liars by ommission. :D