So, the other night, we’re dining at our friends’ house. Indian food. (I don’t cook, so I like to seek out friends who do…) My four-year-old son, dressed up as a princess. He breaks a plastic Cinderella heel in his exuberant princessness. Our friends’ three-year-old, who is a princess. A nineteen-month-old baby, terribly, terribly cute…jumping and screeching and shoving food into his cute little face. My eight-year-old, afraid to touch any kind of food that has been touched by any kind of spice. Or, any kind of food that is not string cheese or apple slices. Or brownies. My husband, telling odd and all-too-true stories about himself. (I love you, dear.)
The conversation turns to vacations. Our friends have just been to Israel and Egypt. My daughter perks right up to match them with this: “We’re going to Illinois later this summer for a family reunion. We’re driving there.” (Her mother, who doesn’t want the expense and trouble of flying like we did last time, has convinced her that eleven hours in the backseat with her little brother will be the ultimate adventure…)
Our friend asks, “Chicago?” She’s hopeful.
Uh, no. Gilman.
“But, guess where I’m going next week?” I’m excited. “To the beach!! Guess who I’m going with?”
“Your writing friends?” Again, she’s hopeful. She’s remembering that I do take an annual trip to the beach with my friends. But not this time…
“No. No friends, no husband, no kids—just me!!”
I get a little flutter-hearted, just saying it. I know the very spot at my parents’ beach house—at the kitchen table, in a big room whose blinds I intend to keep shut—where I plan to think a lot, drink a lot of coffee, and write, as madly and long as I can. I plan to read Cloud Atlas. I will re-read The Great Gatsby. The Idiot’s Guide to Einstein. Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. I will watch really bad television, eat diet microwave pizza, and knit—I have a new pattern! New, yummy yarn!—into the wee hours.
I can hardly wait.
We writers are weird. We’re solitary creatures. Kind of. I like what Audrey Hepburn has said on the art of being alone: “I don’t want to be alone. I want to be left alone.”
Next week, I’m removing myself. I’m eating Lean Cuisine, drinking coffee at all hours. Holing myself up in a beach house and barely touching the actual beach. I can’t wait.