By Caitlin Kelly
The French say it so much better, as usual — subway/train, work, sleep. (Enough already!)
That’s what “normal” life too often devolves into, a steady and numbing routine that continues unbroken, sometimes for decades.
The past 10 days’ break have been a blessing indeed, with a deliciously indolent rhythm of eat/sleep/repeat. Shop, visit a museum, see friends, read for pleasure, sit in the sun on the dock and listen to gulls squawking. Just slooooooooooooow down to whatever pace is ours alone.
Both of the friends we stayed with, both long-married couples with empty nests, are people we’ve known for many years, welcoming and gracious hosts who fed us well and stayed up into the night talking. Both have cats and large, affectionate dogs who would come and nose us awake in the silent mornings.
The husbands get along beautifully and the women, like me, love to make stuff, whether sewing or art or calligraphy — one is a fellow writer and the other is a graphic designer who teaches and runs her own firm. She helped me make this amazing bag with fabric I bought years ago in Toronto and a vintage watch face I found in Richmond and attached with a button — with a $ sign! — she just happened to have in her stash of antique buttons.
It’s the perfect bag for a freelance writer: time, words, money.
It was deeply refreshing to just not have to do anything. (That’s not entirely accurate, as two of my editors wanted more work on two stories I thought were fully tied off, but you ignore clients at your peril.)
This week back home in New York is a bit of the usual whirlwind — meeting a friend in from San Francisco Tuesday for a drink, an event at a local library for my book “Malled” on Wednesday, and Thursday night will join a group of New York Times staffers at a trivia contest — we won last year, so it’s time to defend our title against The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and a room filled with ferocious journalism competitors eager to prove who’s smartest.
It will be the usual blur of meetings, calls, emails, pitches, errands, follow-ups.
But next Saturday we fly to Tucson, Arizona for two more weeks where Jose will be working long days teaching the New York Times Student Journalism Institute. I’ll be giving a lecture on freelancing, but the rest of my time there is pure rest and relaxation. I’m hoping to hike the Grand Canyon again — the last time was June 1994 — alone, as last time. I can’t wait to go horseback riding through one of my favorite parts of the country.
Our time off has let us feel human again, not just weary industrial cogs in machines moving far too quickly. We laughed a lot and slept deeply.
Have you been able to take a break recently?
Did it help?