This month, I did something I haven’t done in recent memory.
I took a vacation.
Now, to be fair, I have gone on vacation in the past five years. But it always included work. I brought a computer and flute along, and felt obligated to keep up with email, practicing, reading, writing, and idea generating. While I enjoyed myself, there was always that pressure to work underscoring everything.
This time, I didn’t bring my laptop along. My flute was in the repair shop but I brought a backup. I brought one work-related book. And of course I had my phone, which kept me tied to colleague-friends. But most of the projects I have been working on, including my ever-expanding etude project, came to a grinding halt. I spent nearly four weeks away from work, visiting family and friends, and spending the last week on the beach. Living in the middle of the country for the past couple of years has made me realize how much I miss the coast, and it is always a restorative place to visit. There the days run into each other, and the passing of time is marked by afternoon thundershowers, amazing sunsets, and the changing tides. It took a while for me to decompress, but I am more relaxed than I have been in a very long time.
I practiced just a bit but it was when I truly felt like it, and it was for short periods of time. I read just a couple of chapters of my work-related book. I came up with a bunch of new ideas, but they were spontaneously generated. I made a note of them and will work on them later. Instead of the usual type of productivity, I picked blueberries and made a bunch of blueberry syrup. I visited parents, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and in-laws. My husband and I spent an epic whirlwind couple of days with Al Theisen in Asheville, North Carolina; we also had a great time with friends, including Michael Kallstrom, in Kentucky. I visited old high school friends who still live in my hometown. I ate well, including home cookin’ as well as meals at restaurants such as Hugh Acheson’s 5&10, Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, and Southern Soul BBQ in Saint Simons Island, GA. I spent time in Athens, GA and St. Louis. I drove through 10 different states. I bought a stack of new books from the excellent bookstore on Jekyll Island, GA. And I spent a glorious week at my favorite place: the Golden Isles of Georgia.
I made my semi-annual trip to the grocery store specifically to buy regional food that I can’t find in the upper midwest. Vidalia onions, honey, muscadine wine, White Lily flour, Cheerwine, Duke’s mayonnaise, pecan rice, cornmeal, and Southern Soul BBQ sauce now fill my pantry until my next trip home.
This post is a departure from the usual, but so was this month. And guess what? The world is still spinning, my career still seems to be intact, and I am refreshed and ready to jump back in. Maybe I’ll make this vacation-thing a regular occurrence.