There and Back

I bailed.

Rabbit and his family were going to be out of town through Thanksgiving, and MK was going to be putting twelve and sixteen hour workdays together. So it seemed like a good time to leave Boston and all my habits behind. Before I knew it I was back at Rabbit’s burrow in the Mass countryside.

It was like I stepped out of my life. I was enjoying an unfamiliar, complete solitude in a familiar and comfortable setting. At first, I was trying so hard to unwind that I was actually stressing out. I would be furious at myself if I wasn’t walking in the forest before lunch, or reading a book in the last of the afternoon light. But by the end of my second day, I was off-schedule and not looking back. I was sitting down to dinner and a movie at 11:30 at night. At 1 in the morning I was enjoying the juiciest clementines with the coldest, driest martini I could make.

I took a long, long walk in the woods one afternoon, wearing my heavy boots and warmest flannel. I walked until I was exhausted. Then I descended the hill into town, where I saw the lights burning in the window of the game store. Inside it was warm and snug, and I spent an hour browsing the inventory and chatting with the owner about the glory days of PC gaming and the delights of board gaming. I ended up buying War of the Ring and Hold the Line, a wargame of the American Revolution.

Walking the woods with MK and the Murdochs

Somewhere in all of this I started realizing that hours and hours were going by without checking Twitter, or even opening a web browser. I scarcely used my laptop at all. I was focused on whatever I was doing. I had no responsibilities and no distractions. Was it time for a game? Then that’s all there was in the world until I was bored with it. Then maybe it was time for a movie, or another game, or a chat with a friend on Skype. Or both.

I wrote, of course. Not as much as I intended, but that was all to the good. The lesson of Julian’s house was that I intend too much and enjoy too little. Finally, when it was time to bring MK out for Thanksgiving, I felt as light as a feather. I enjoyed every minute of the long drive in and out of the city, and we quickly started preparing for our little Thanksgiving celebration.

On Twitter, I could watch my friends enjoying or enduring familial gatherings. But for us, Thanksgiving was just a chance to try some ambitious new things in a big kitchen. We played and cooked and walked all we wanted. Then Julian and Jessica came home with the kids, and we spent another day or so doing more of the same with them. I lost an excruciatingly close game of War of the Ring to Julian, went on a long walk with him and the kids, had a blast doing an epic-length GWJ podcast (edited to be listenable-length), and finally had to leave. I was ready, and even eager to start making some changes to how I do things here in the city.

The classiest bird ever: butterflied, rubbed for two days, red wine and tangerine glaze

I’m back now, and have been for about a week. In some ways, at least. In others, I have yet to return. I’m still keeping life a bit quiet. It seems a little pointless to get back to full speed when I’ll be taking a train to the Midwest in under two weeks. I’ve got a couple assignments left to clear off my plate, and a few pieces whose status is a complete mystery to me, but after that life will kind of come to a halt while I’m on my holiday travels.

I’m also trying to put some lessons I learned these last few weeks into practice. Small stuff, but important stuff. My goal is to find a new balance and a new rhythm. Something a little closer to the quiet, relaxed productivity of my time in the country than the insignificant sound and fury that sometimes characterized my workdays here in Cambridge.

    • Dan
    • December 7th, 2010 3:14pm

    Nice to take a little break, isn’t it? I have finally just gotten back to some what efficient production for the first time since I finished my prelim exams last April. But the great thing about it is that I really love what I am doing now, and the project has taken a really interesting turn. In short, I need to do a little detective work to try to puzzle together the identity of an anonymous author. It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done, but extremely refreshing.

    Have you had a chance to play Gran Turismo yet? The licenses and special challenges are as frustrating as ever, but the racing is actually quite a bit easier than I remember it being in the last ps2 version. Also, I have never seen my favorite car from the last one up for sale yet. But I promise, once I get my hands on a Gillet Vertigo, it’s game over.

      • Flitcraft
      • December 7th, 2010 5:36pm

      Anonymous author? Recent or long dead? That sounds like an interesting problem.

      I’m still waiting on a GT5 review copy. Hopefully one will show up soon. I’m looking forward to it, even though I’m not much of a GT fan anymore.

    • Dan
    • December 7th, 2010 9:47pm

    Long….dead. It’s an anonymous political tract from 1680. How much detail do you want?

      • Flitcraft
      • December 7th, 2010 10:34pm

      It’s the kind of thing that interests me. Maybe send me an email about it. I’m curious about it. You think you can identify the author? That it was a person of note?

    • Erik
    • December 8th, 2010 4:38pm

    I’m only a little jealous–trying not to be moreso. Will you be at the next RabbitCon, Rob?

      • Flitcraft
      • December 8th, 2010 9:38pm

      Definitely going to be at Rabbitcon. Looking forward to it so much. It’s great to see these people outside the internet.

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