post squam bliss
It didn’t happen when she got in the cab that would drive her to the plane that would take her far, far away. It didn’t happen after I slept on it and downed four espressos and trudged through my first day back at work. It didn’t even happen after I crossed the tracks and hopped the fence to the jogging path and ran my little heart out. It wasn’t until I boiled the water that cooked the rice and hung my clothes to dry and poured myself a glass of wine and sat on my jolly green giant couch and read the following passages from this book that I was suddenly able to process what Squam meant to me.
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”
“All my life I’ve felt that there was something magical about people who could get into other people’s minds and skin, who could take people like me out of ourselves and then take us back to ourselves.” – Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
I think I half expected a giant revelation and I kept waiting for it to kick in like a caffeine rush. My heart felt like a pinata cracked open and I wanted to run wildly and scoop up everything in sight, but I needed to let all the shiny, sweet, colorful bits fall to the ground then pick them up one by one and examine them closely. And what I discovered is that Squam, for me, was a beautiful opportunity to stop, to step away from all of the noise, to explore and pay attention and play and meet the people that would take me back to myself and remind me that I am walking the right path.
I went with an open mind and absolutely no expectations and what I came home with were little patches of light, like the way the sun hits the ground through pine trees and a pocket full of bread crumbs for when I’m feeling lost on my journey (and trust me, I get lost a lot, people) to guide me back to this creative path when I get distracted by the day to day.
I remember reading everyone’s Squam stories last year and being string-bean green with envy because it all sounded so magical and dazzling and damnit, why wasn’t I a part of it? And I know we are saturating the internet with our Squam posts and I apologize to anyone who is turning green at this moment (either because you are sick of hearing about it or because you are itching to go yourself) but if you are… it just means that you are one step closer to making the decision to register for next year (which you should totally do by the way) and if this pushes you to the edge, then jump. Trust me, you’ll land in a safe place.
And since I’m on a roll, I might as well dish out my Top 10 Squam Moments. Y’all know how much I enjoy a good list.
- That night on the dock with candles and wine and tarot cards and loon calls echoing off the lake.
- Walking the path from the cabin to the playhouse to the dining hall. It felt very significant. All of us walking the same path.
- Skinny dipping in Squam Lake under a blanket of stars, one of which shot out of the sky like a ball of marmalade fire.
- Road tripping with Susannah, stopping to snap polaroids and pick apples, her grabbing my hand and saying Just drive, Louise in her best southern drawl.
- I don’t want to single anyone out because every single person that I met at Squam was a sparkling spirit. But if I absolutely had to give MVP badges, they would have to go to Elizabeth MacCrelish, Jen Lee and Andrea Jenkins. They rocked my world. As did my adventurous skinny dippers in crime. And…. Ah shit! Ya know what? This is starting to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech. I’d like to thank the Academy…. Everybody gets a gold star. Every single person there shined bright. Like, retina blinding bright.
- Running along wooded trails. I didn’t realize how much I missed the forest.
- The food was pretty darn glorious… especially the part about not having to cook it or clean the dishes. I seriously ate as if I had never seen food in my life and would never eat again. I’m going through breakfast potato withdrawel.
- The silence. Saying goodbye to the noise. The noise of the city, the noise in my head.
- That hour right before dinner when the light is lazy… sitting on the screened-in porch, sipping a glass of wine without a care in the world.
- Donning a fake moustache and silly star-shaped glasses in Hula’s TTV class and the hilarious portrait session that ensued.
Everyone had a different Squam experience. Everyone went home with different snapshots and memories and a top ten that may not resemble mine but I think the common thread is that we each found pieces of ourselves. Pieces that were buried under the weight of the day to day, pieces that were lost over the years, pieces of us we may not have even known existed until now. Perhaps we celebrated our silly side or tapped into a source of strength or unleashed the beast that was holding our creativity captive or at the very least… found space to breathe and grow. And that is worth its weight in gold. I hope to see you all there next year.