By this point in the week I had been around people pretty non-stop for five days. While I’m an outgoing person and I love the people I was traveling with, I’m also a loner in a lot of ways. It’s been weird to have this realization, as for years I was so social my mother called me a “social butterfly” with frightening regularity. But in the last few years, possibly in conjunction with wanting to pursue a writing career, I’ve noticed how much I like to be alone, how much I love true quiet. The kind that sinks into your bones and calms your soul. And while this location provided that sense of peace, being around people naturally does not.
Wednesday night was Taco Night, which was really just an excuse to have margaritas. According to my friend, margaritas were going to start around 4pm. Around that time I was feeling restless. I had been around the house all day, I was feeling grumpy and the constant knot of anxiety that I had been carrying around in the city was back. In essence, I was not in a fun place.
My husband, knowing me better than I know myself, suggested we take the canoe out, just the two of us. I hesitated. First off I didn’t want to miss any of margarita night and secondly I didn’t want to be all coupley. This is the problem with me traveling with my husband and friends: I’m always, always worried about being too coupley. For further explanation search around you the next time you are in public for that couple that’s so into themselves they run into strollers and step on your heels. Annoying, even to other couples.
So going out on our own, knowing that everyone else would be digging into some tequila was hard for me to do. But, trusting my husband’s wisdom in these situations, we paddled away.
We started going one way out on the lake and the further we got away from the cottage the more the words flowed out of me. I guess I had some built up something going on because I rattled on about nothing and everything that was under my skin for about 20 minutes. We were going to head back but as we neared the dock I realized that I wasn’t calm enough yet to be social and not grumpy, so we picked a path that I had not been down yet.
My husband had taken this path on a solo trip earlier in the week, then again with one of the other boys we were staying with and really wanted me to see it. Apparently the above waterway curved around into a little tiny river that lead to an open pond that was just stunning. “Let’s do it,” I said determinedly, realizing that this risk was farther reaching than I had originally imagined.
We began making our way and were struck immediately by how tough this journey was going to be. The current was going against us so we were paddling into the ripples. If you’ve never done this and want some killer back muscles, I highly recommend it. We paddled and paddled and all the while I was frustrated. Frustrated that this was so difficult, frustrated that the kids playing on the neighboring docks were screaming with delight, frustrated by the motor boats that were having no consideration for the two people in the tiny canoe.
When we finally got to the tiny river I started to relax a little. It suddenly became so quiet and peaceful. There were lily pads all around us and marshy undergrowth. And then we entered the pond.
Part of me wishes I had my camera, but a part of me is so glad I didn’t. I don’t think I would have been able to capture the beauty anyway. And my memory can add things like the quiet that existed there and the smells that wafted over us. There was complete and utter stillness. The water was glassy and the nearby boats that had just been bugging me seemed like a world away. The sun was beginning it’s descent and the crickets were starting to come out. It was magical.
My husband began to adjust himself in the canoe and it was shaking the entire thing. Being the appreciative partner that I am, I kind of got snippy with him. I was sitting perfectly still, allowing myself to be infected by this peace and he was ruining it! I’m such a good wife.
As we were leaving I apologized to him, realizing that he had nothing to do with my frustration, rather my own lack of attention to my needs had everything to do with my frustration. I’d been avoiding the reality that I had been neglecting myself for so long that I didn’t want to fess up to it. If I admitted it, then I would also have to recognize that I had done that to myself. No one had asked me to give over so much of myself.
I made a promise to him and myself that when we got back to the city, I was going to find the quiet in the crazy life we live there, that I would figure out how to create that peace in our tiny apartment. I’m realizing that without it, I fall apart. And that’s not fair to him or I.