Thanksgiving Writing Retreat

1 Dec

This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to get drunk in the woods. This brings to mind two types of stories. The first is a tale of self-discovery and acceptance of all my shortcomings from which I return to the life I had with a little less baggage and wiser than when I left. The second is a horror film where I am murdered in an abandoned camp ground rented out by black-market organ dealers.

Thankfully the second plot was not the story of my weekend. However, I don’t see any Hollywood tycoons banging on my door for the film rights to what actually happened either. Media taints our perception of reality, we know this. I wasn’t expecting much, but at the same time I was expecting something, it is human nature when you are raised in the 20th century.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

I rented a cabin somewhere in Arizona I had never been called Lyman Lake. Simple, cheap, and out in the middle of nowhere (aka away from humans…I am slowly morphing into a hermit). The Friday after Thanksgiving I drove my hung over ass, my dog, and my high hopes five hours through several different forms of precipitation to a lake hidden in the mountains of Northern Arizona.

What I expected:

  • Monumental progress on my romance novel
  • Finishing the book I have been reading for months now
  • Plenty of hiking with Kali, my dog, so she got all the nature she doesn’t get at home
  • A blazing fire both nights over which I would cook bratwursts and foil packets of potatoes like I had seen on Pinterest

What actually happened:

  • I wrote about 3000 words, which isn’t even half of a novella
  • Still have 300 pages shy of the end of the book I have been reading (although I did make progress, I think I just read slower than I think)
  • One hike, just one, on the first day. It was about a mile and I had to stop several times to just breath.
  • No fire. Not one. I ate bagels and carrot sticks the whole time.

It sounds disappointing, but even though the weekend didn’t meet my expectations, I loved every second of it. I got a lot more writing done than I would have at home. I have been trying for months to make progress on this idea of a book, and I actually feel good about the direction the story it taking now. I spent a solid four hours just reading. I never let myself do that at home. There is always something to clean or errands to run or Netflix to catch up on. I was out in nature. Maybe I was’t stomping through it with my hiking boots, but I saw petroglyphs and actual stars splattered across the sky in all their unadulterated glory. Kali got to run and play and sniff new things, which for a dog is a big deal. She saw snow for the first time and realized it was cold, very cold. I swear those big brown eyes looked at me and thanked me for living in Phoenix. We walked more than any weekend in the last couple of months and that is progress. I even did about two minutes of yoga because the crappy cabin mattress made my 32 year old back ache like the dickens.

I can’t spin the food with a positive light though. I’m still mad I forgot a lighter and the brats I brought sat in the cooler the whole time. At least I ate my veggies though!

What I wasn’t expecting was the complete lack of pressure and the calming quiet of the mountains. I was more at peace than I could have even imagined I would be. There was zero cell service or wifi and that level of disconnection gave me permission to take my time with everything I chose to do. There were hours and hours to fill so whatever idea of a schedule I had come up with was thrown out the window. There were no messages or social media to check so I barely even looked at my phone which meant I didn’t have any idea what time it was unless I intentionally looked for it. I can’t even tell you how freeing that felt.

Am I going to run off to the woods to live off the land? No, clearly I am not built for that. Did I have any personal growth opportunities that will make me a better person? No, absolutely not, but it was nice realizing I could sit in silence and not literally go crazy. Am I going to be one of those people that deletes all the apps on their phone other than contacts and maps? FUCK no. I need to stalk people to know I am not the worst human that has ever existed and make sure my exes aren’t happy than me. Maybe one day I’ll work up to a weekly social media detox…one day.

What I will do is try to take more trips with just a book and my dog…and my laptop, I’m not an animal. And a bottle of vodka, that shit really gets the creative juices flowing. I will try to make time to do the things I actually enjoy and not just what I have to do to survive. I will take Kali on more walks.

I will continue to be the person I am, but maybe I will also manage to sometimes be the person I found in the mountains.

I will remember I don’t hate the snow as much as I think, it is nice in small doses.

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