JAN: I've been rewriting a novel that I first wrote at a time when I was doing a lot of sailing and it has a lot of sailing scenes that bring me back to that time in my life. I was never very mechanical and had no natural instincts for sailing. And I sure as hell couldn't find my way home in a storm, as they say. But I loved sailing anyway, and I loved it for this reason.
On a sailboat, you have to be both spare and neat. You only bring the things you really need, and everything, from the winch to the corkscrew, to the pots and pans, has to go back in its place immediately after use.
That I found this so appealing is odd because I'm not a put-it-back-in-its-place kind of gal. I'm much more likely to get distracted halfway through any task and leave all important tools on the counter. I make big messes and clean them up afterward.
But NEVER on a sailboat.
So I've come to think, what I like most about travel -- whether its on a sailboat in Buzzards Bay, an apartment in Aix-En-Provence or a hotel room in Manhattan -- getting away from my stuff. I'm not sure whether it's the stuff itself, or the excess of stuff- but I'm pretty sure that's part of the appeal.
So that's what I think I'm getting away from, but I'm curious, about the rest of you going off on vacation; What is at the heart of your "getting away?"
HANK: Oh, first let me just say. Sailing. I really wanted to do it, so I took lessons in Boston Harbor.
Okay, the instructor said. Point the bow of the boat into the wind.
How do I know which way that is?I asked.
The guy looked a little baffled. You don't know how to tell which way the wind is blowing?
Hank: Well, if it's from the north, say, does that mean its blowing FROM the north? Which to me would mean it's blowing south. Or does it mean it's blowing TO the north? Like, from the south?
Hank: Besides, the wind is all around us, right?
My lessons did not last long.
Getting away? Ah. Very difficult for me.
ROBERTA: Ha, ha Hank you're hysterical. That may have been the last lesson that guy ever taught! I don't mind riding on a sail boat, but don't put me in charge. And only in good weather, which I think kind of defeats the purpose for real sailors, right?
This is not what you asked, but Jan, I have to speak to the luggage/stuff question. I recently bought a new suitcase because the carry-on luggage rules are getting so strict. Nothing worse than trying to jam a too-large suitcase into the overhead compartment with the whole airplane watching. And I'm short so I have to be sure I can hoist the weight overhead--you simply can't (and shouldn't) count on some other passenger to do it for you. Anyway, this new bag is small enough to fit any regulations. I tried it out when I went to visit my family in Florida recently--oh I felt so smug in comparison to the travelers with too much baggage. I don't know how it will work on our real vacation, which is coming up in September. Maybe if I adhered to the "six items of clothing" rule that we've been reading about recently.
And I'm looking forward to getting away--it's very hard to have a real break in this day and age of super-connectedness!
RHYS: Sailing--love it in good weather. I'd never make a round-the-world race. I like being dry and warm. I had crewed on and off but never taken a bota out alone. I did that in Cancun once. Ah, the feeling of power and accomplishment knowing that I was in charge of tis boat, I could go where I wanted and I brought it back safely to the harbor. It was a huge confidence booster.
But what am I getting away from? I'm afraid it nearly always comes with me. I'd like to take a break from writing but on my current schedule there is never time so the computer is on my desk in Nice today and I have to find time to do my five pages. And I can't seem to get away from email either. And have you noticed--whenever you're away the most importnat, compelling emails start arriving. The kind that says, "We must know today whether you'd like to speak at this incredicbily prestigious event and what your topic will be!" When I'm home it's days of boring emails. Vacation and it's stress filled emails every day! I think they just wait and hold them up for my vacations.
HALLIE: As someone who learned the meaning of "Coming about!" the hard way, I am so not into boats. Terra firma, all the way for me. But what an interesting question - do we like to go on vacation to get away from our stuff. Uh...I like to get away from everyone else's stuff (which they leave ALL OVER THE HOUSE except where it belongs), but not mine (which is always in perfect order). It's an "eye of the beholder" thing.
We just got back from Greece and I have to say I loved getting away from the all things telephone and Internet because day to day I am so addicted.
JAN: Hank and Hallie, it doesn't sound as if you got to the part of sailing when you reach the next harbor at sunset and have cocktails in the cockpit and fresh lobster boiled in seawater after. That makes it easier to put up with all that hauling up lines and coming about.
And although I've sailed a Sunfishes by myself, Rhys, it sounds like you have superior sailing skills.
ROSEMARY: I'm so used to my telephone not working that staying connected is not really an issue for me. I do love to check emails though. It's as if I think Russell Crowe is suddenly going to get in touch. "In town for the weekend..fancy a pint?"
On driving vacations I throw as much stuff in the car as I can. Think Thelma and Louise ("but we might need a gun...") Driving from one place to another it's comforting to have that box of cereal or extra jacket in the car. On most other trips I pride myself on packing light. Anyone who's ever met me at a show can attest I don't mind wearing the same outfit a few times. If I change my shoes or earrings I can convince myself it's different.
When I go to Africa I bring very little since I'll be hauling my bag all over the back of beyond. That's liberating. Interestingly enough the Blackberry works in the hut where I usually stay. No electricity, no running water, but if Russell emails, I'm ready.
I'm packing now for a hiking/camping trip to Montana next week. I've managed to convince my husband that we don't need to pack the water purification kit or the campstove. That's getting away - although Leslie W., one of my NE sisters in Crime will be in a cabin not far away so we'll try to connect. What are the odds, right?
JAN: So it sounds a little like Rosemary might be getting away from her stuff, too. How about the rest of you out there, when you are getting away, what are you getting away FROM?