Meditation: On Hideaways
Okay, so I’m a hypocrite. A couple of weeks back I grumbled about being left behind in the city while everyone else decamps, but this week I get to spend four days in Vermont and New Hampshire. E. and I are taking the train up to see our friend James and family and to admire the work he’s done renovating their 1850’s house.
I have a loaner copy of the new Harry Potter book and a bunch of crosswords to keep me occupied on the train, and E. always brings enough snacks to last a week. When we arrive in New England, I’ll instantly start trying to cajole James’ wife Cybele into making her famous Dutch Baby, and hopefully we’ll be invited to work off the extra calories by helping with some of the ongoing renovation. Then we can make ourselves useful by reading a couple of bedtime stories to the handsome and charming Ramon, and hop out of bed early enough to do some grocery shopping at the farmer’s market.
I enjoy a nice lay-in-a-hammock-and-do-nothing holiday every now and then, but, looking back, most of my favorite hideaways have involved a fair amount of labor. It’s not all work I want to hide from, just my own. For some reason, all the drudgery of meeting our daily food, clothing, and shelter needs has a new charm when we take the show on the road. It’s not the crisp mountain air that makes our fresh trout–or burnt Tofu Pups–taste so great on the grill: it’s the delicacy of unaccustomed work we savor. Pitching a tent in the Peekskills, grabbing a guesthouse room in Bangkok, foraging for edible greens in the Carolinas or for curries in Mandalay, chopping wood in Alaska, digging clams in Washington state–I’ve loved it all.
So how come it’s so hard sometimes to bring a spirit of initiative and adventure to the Q train commute and the vendor cart lunches?
I find–and forget, and find again–that the more I pay attention to my life, the happier I am in it. But I can get from 25th street to Brooklyn on autopilot, without once thinking about where I am. So it helps just to mix it up a bit, whether it’s with a cheap weekend getaway or just a change in the daily routine, taking another route to the subway, trying a new place for lunch. When I was a kid, jealous of those who got to go to summer camp, my parents indulged me in a DIY hideaway by letting me pitch a tent inside my room. But somehow I don’t think E. will be thrilled at that change in our decor…does Lenny Kravitz have a yurt line yet?