Listening to: Morcheeba, Big Calm
Vacation time in early November; not to the Caribbean but up to the mountains, to stay in a friend’s remote cabin, just myself and Joseph Heller, Gustave Flaubert, and cheap bottle of shiraz, no phone, no internet, no noise other than the crackle of a fire and the soft flop of snow falling from tree branches.
Colorful drinks with fruit on plastic swords? Sweaty folds of flesh beneath Aloha shirts? Drunken spastics on a disco floor or painted shells strung on fishing line? That’s not a vacation, that’s an expensive trip to a bored Dominatrix. Finding myself miles from the nearest bleep or blip bubbling beneath the skin of society, isolated from the soul-hammering yammer of media nitwits - that’s my escape.
Driving into the mountains on Friday, I hit heavy snowfall, serious November flakes the size of maple leaves streaking past the windshield like a leap into hyperspace, leaving this galaxy and entering the frontier of darkness. Mahler’s Symphony #1 for the soundtrack, first movement perfect for venturing through the slipstream, each measure bringing me closer to revealing the mystery around the next corner which merely hints at the unknown beyond. As my tires crunched into the newfallen snow in front of the cabin, Mahler brought the final movement to crescendo, carrying me inside and the rest of everything out beyond the hills, to lie in state until my return.
The cabin was dark, darker than the snowfields outside, cold and forbidding. My fingers traced the letter of the nameplate over the door, “Hotel Sophia” to seek out the key and find out where I’d spend the next few days. The lock unlatched and I entered into a Spartan room, two bunks, a couch, a kitchen and fireplace. Unhinging the flue, I immediately went to work on a fire, the flames that would be my only live company over the next few days.
The snow still fell Saturday, fast and hard, bending boughs and burying any hint that I’d just rolled in the night before. If a bear tore me limb from limb, no one would know until the ski season started. Well enough; it’s what I wanted.
And enough to bring me here, to state this, to say, “I got away and what did you get?” Not to rub your nose in it (though I will, God knows) but just to ask if you’ll likewise take a moment to step out of the lines and breathe deep, really deep. One, two, three, take a moment and forget who we are, why we’re here and consider what really matters. That’s enough, isn’t it?
Sure seemed that way as I drove back home. Dousing the flames of the fire, closing up the flue, and carrying the ashes to be interned in the yard outside was the hardest thing I’ve done in awhile. I hated to leave, to have to re-enter this universe and return to all I’d forgotten for the past few days and nights. Driving back home, blinded by the sunlight bounced off by the snow, dealing with sheep shot through the chute into this eternal shithole, I wondered: is this all there is?
And thinking back on my weekend of sheer solitude I realized, no, there is so much more. A weekend without TV and internet and phone and chatter is what I needed to remember that yes, there is so much more. When a client said he’d spent his weekend watching football, I just nodded, good; I wasted my time as well. Sofa King Wechaw Jed.
If you haven't taken the time to get wechaw jed, you'll die with an empty skull. Count on it.