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post squam bliss

September 23, 2009


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.

  1. That night on the dock with candles and wine and tarot cards and loon calls echoing off the lake.
  2. Walking the path from the cabin to the playhouse to the dining hall.  It felt very significant.  All of us walking the same path.
  3. Skinny dipping in Squam Lake under a blanket of stars, one of which shot out of the sky like a ball of marmalade fire.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Running along wooded trails.  I didn’t realize how much I missed the forest.
  7. 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.
  8. The silence.  Saying goodbye to the noise.  The noise of the city, the noise in my head.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2009 12:59 pm

    my heart feels so open after that starry sky, night swims, taking photos of our moustached silly selves, and how wide all of our smiles were all week. sooo much goodness.

  2. September 23, 2009 1:40 pm

    so much goodness.

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    September 23, 2009 2:05 pm

    ohhhhhhhhhhh OH. Jeanine. You are my YES.

  4. September 23, 2009 2:18 pm

    String-bean-green-with-envy is just about right. 🙂

  5. September 23, 2009 2:54 pm

    That sounds like so much fun! I am a little envious, but mostly happy for you and your lovely experience :o)

    Hugs from DC.

  6. September 23, 2009 3:33 pm

    yep. if i hadn’t been there with you i’d be totally green with envy right about now 😉 a RAWsome Squam post, baby xox

  7. September 23, 2009 3:36 pm

    oh yes yes. your #1 is def’n in my top 10 too babe. i miss you so much and know that we will see each other again sometime – perhaps next year – meet you back on the dock?

    love, love

  8. September 23, 2009 4:29 pm

    yes and yes, and yes again… thank you for reminding me that the quiet DOES exist, even within the recesses of my own mind, stopping to find it, that’s the trick… big big hugs to you Jeanine

  9. September 23, 2009 5:57 pm

    you had me at “crossed the tracks and hopped the fence”…
    love the way you express yourself.
    and loved observing how free you are in your skin.

  10. September 23, 2009 6:01 pm

    mmmm i love this. and your photos are all so perfectly dreamy. you are rawesome. xo

  11. kat permalink
    September 23, 2009 6:16 pm

    sigh oh so lovely as per usual – the way the words become pictures when you use them and don’t even get me started on the pictures the light like another world revealed…thanks for allowing us in, on writing succinctly of your experience allowing us to transport ourselves to moments in europe, squam, rainy day jogs, broken hearts. you are my spiritual gardener xoxoxxoo

  12. September 23, 2009 7:03 pm

    oh….yes, I’m green – split pea green with charteuse streaks and dark kelly polka dots. sounds amazing.

    I do so need a damn job.

  13. September 23, 2009 7:39 pm

    you captured it beautifully.

  14. September 23, 2009 9:37 pm

    wow. sounds kinda like a magical “big girl camp”, and with art-hour all day long! such a dreamy thing, this SQUAM. thanks for sharing!!!

  15. September 24, 2009 6:46 am

    your no. 1 is definitely my no. 1. that evening is my happy-go-to place that will sustain and enrich me until next year.

    dude, there’s no one i’d rather get naked and dip in the water with! you made that week in the woods really special, i’m glad to have met you. xx

  16. September 24, 2009 9:16 am

    🙂 I loved meeting you ~ your experience sounds delicious. It was a time I shall never forget. xo

  17. Christine permalink
    September 24, 2009 9:51 am

    I’ve never left a comment but I had to tell you I really appreciate your recap of squam. I have not been able to attend for a variety of reasons but I dream of the day I can go. I have a quick question, what is the material you used to surround the duaflex camera? It looks really clever how you constructed that.
    Thanks again

  18. September 24, 2009 1:33 pm

    I stumbled upon your lovely blog & I completely loVe all of your traveling photos. 🙂

  19. Alison permalink
    September 24, 2009 5:50 pm

    My God you write beautifully. As usual I’m stunned and moved and wiping tears from my eyes. I can so imagine how amazing it must have been sharing those few days with what sound like fantastic folks.

  20. September 25, 2009 9:11 am

    It was wonderful to read about your SQUAM experiences. I feel like I just had a mini vacation. I’m so delighted that you had a fantastic time.

  21. September 25, 2009 9:41 am

    Hey, Lovely.
    Please email me…I have something for you 🙂

  22. September 28, 2009 7:19 am


  23. September 28, 2009 4:20 pm

    uh huh .. yups … you have captured some of my favourite moments too. i miss you beautiful and can’t wait to wrap my arms around you again next year. xo

  24. September 28, 2009 10:52 pm

    Such a beautiful post. One of my highlights was meeting you…truly. You sparkled, and I want to hang out with you more!!

  25. October 11, 2009 6:04 am

    Missing you, dear girl.


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