March 5, 2013

When a Writer Takes a Vacation

       I stared at my aqua-marine messenger bag. It sat innocently on the recliner, where it had resided all week long. It saw my comings and goings, and I could feel its make believe eyes, watching me.

     “You can stare at me all you want,” I said. “I’m not taking you.”

      I was prepping for a romantic getaway to Hawaii with my husband, a trip I had been looking forward to all winter. It was going to be a week without children, family, or pets; A trip where we could lose ourselves in the moment without having to worry about anyone, or anything, along the way. This included my laptop and its accompanying messenger bag.

     “You know you are going to end up taking it,” my husband said as I arranged and rearranged my bags for the trip. “You might as well pack it now.”

     “You don’t know me as well as you think you know me. I can be strong. It just takes a little will power. That’s all.”

     “Uh-huh,” he answered and I walked away with my nose in the air.

     Maybe I had failed before but this time I could be strong. My identity wasn’t tied to my laptop. I was April before it existed and I would be April afterwards. This was my chance to prove it, to him, and to myself.

     “Besides”, I said to the bag as I threw it in the closet so it would no longer tempt me, “you’re bulky and oversized. You haven’t shed your winter weight. You’ll just slow me down.”

     As the time for our trip drew nearer I could feel the calling of the bag growing stronger, even through the closet door.

     “April, please take me. I can be a lot of help. Whenever you have a great idea I will be there for you. You wouldn’t want to lose that great idea, would you?”

     Shut up.

     “And if you leave me for a week you may lose that flow that’s been going so well in your novel. You could forget character details and motivations. And you will just get further behind on finishing it. Didn’t you say you’d have that second draft done by mid-March?”

     Shut up!

     “Please! I really want to see Hawaii! You won’t even know I’m there.”

     I hate to admit how obsessed I was and how the dilemma had cast a shadow over my trip. I was feeling a bit like Anthony Hopkins character (a ventriloquist) in the movie Magic. By the end of the movie the dummy and the ventriloquist had become so infused with one another, the audience wasn’t able to discern who was who anymore. My laptop had become my dummy, and it was really starting to creep me out.

     “Just take it,” my husband said again as I was recounting the reasons it needed to stay home.

     “No. I’ve made up my mind.”

     “Yeah. We’ll see.”

     On the day of our trip we packed our car, pulled out of our driveway, and rambled down the street that would lead us to the freeway. Having successfully left my bag in the house, I was feeling rather smug and was about to give my husband a great big I told you so lecture. But before we could make it out of our subdivision the panic set in.


     My husband looked at me, smiling. “You want your bag don’t you?”

     “Yes,” I nodded meekly. “I feel like a mother who forgot her child at the supermarket.”

     “Well, you lasted longer than I thought you would. It’s a good first step.”

     “I had just really hoped…”

     “It’s your safety net and your umbilical cord, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even if you don’t write one word on our trip, you will be happy it came along.”

     He pulled into our driveway and I rushed into the house, cursing all the way. I threw my archaic, seven-pound laptop into my messenger bag, found my thumb drive, and ran for the car.

     “You are going to break my shoulders and make me use an extra bin in security,” I scolded it as we drove. “It’s because I lug you around all day that I have to go to physical therapy for my back.”

     “But you would have missed me so much.” It answered.

     “Yes. I know.”

     My husband shook his head. “You know I’m sitting right next to you? I can hear your imaginary conversation with your bag.”

     “Don’t listen to him,” the bag said. “He doesn’t love you as much as I do.”

     “I know.” I answered.

     “You’re insane,” my husband said. “But I love you.”

     “Just drive,” I directed him. And he did.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in the navy I would go months with no TV and no internet and no computer. First weeks were harsh but I usually brought along a dozen books or so. I would have to take 6-8 month breaks from my favorite was brutal.



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