Adjusting the Soul to the Skin

As a freelancer, I often find myself balancing my will to watch Netflix with my intention to write.  As a coping mechanism, I book working dates with fellow writers or educators (educators *always* have work to do).  We strand ourselves somewhere, and it’s usually productive.  Right now, I collaborate with an assistant principal (a former mentee), a teacher (my best friend), and a social worker/writer (my husband).  Today began in a very familiar way.  My husband’s been having trouble working on one of his projects, and I offered a day in parallel play, writing alongside him at whatever venue he selected.

Enter the problem.  The venue.

We need a place that’s not too loud (for me), with internet access (for him), and electrical outlets and indoor table space (for both).   I’d rather not drive, and if he drives, we need more than two-hour parking.  We need a place open to all day write-ins.  After about an hour, we decided to wade across the street to the neighborhood coffee shop where he’s a fixture and I’m familiar.

The whole thing’s a hassle.  I do have an “office” at home: a folding card table, some cork board (no longer usable, because one of my cat loves pushpins), this laptop.  I can dream of something fancier, a cute corner with trifles and shelves, scattered projects and low lighting.  But I know it wouldn’t last.  My apartment’s small.  Things don’t stay where I put them.

I was somewhat stunned by the video of a peer’s writing space.   An excess of luxury I could only wish for, and certainly beyond the scope of my life.  I know there are places in this city where people rent a shared office space, and I’ve been tempted.  But the cost, and travel distance, are prohibitive.  If I were offered one for free (or say $5 a month!) and two blocks away, I’d take it.   Otherwise, it would be a waste of money.  I won’t even go to yoga classes if I have to drive to them.  Trust that I won’t choose get in the car on the daily to go sit at a desk and type.  Even a really pretty desk.

But I *love* residencies.  There is little I dream of more than a writerly escape.  I have gone away to write a couple of times in my life, and am always delighted with the results.  I spend days digging deep into me and return with a batch of raw writing that will need years of cultivating.  It’s like a chiropractic adjustment that fits the soul back to the skin.  And I love to be in that shared hallucination that occurs when a bunch of artists live together.  Nothing finer.  The appeal of a monastic life.

In November, I took a week and drove up the coast, stopping several times in both directions.  I camped alone.  I spent time with soul loves who’d moved away.  I watched the ocean.  I walked in the rain.   It was hard on my husband, who just wanted me home.  And so hard on me when I had to get back to the day-to-day.  Like that space just short of lucid dreaming where you know you just saw something, read something, but it refuses you.  But it’s all I wish for.