Will and I (and a somewhat nervous LG) got away for a few days.
Here’s how it happened:
First there was a global pandemic and all our huge and carefully constructed travel plans for 2020 disintegrated into nothing. Then, I kept myself very busy doing everything I could think to do around our house—a complete overhaul of the front yard, replanting in the back yard, updating the linens for our bedroom, repainting the interior and exterior house trim. The other day, with 30 minutes between my class Zooms, I took everything out of the refrigerator, wiped down the shelves, and put everything back in more or less exactly the same place. While I am a slightly anxious person under the best of circumstances, these are not the best of circumstances.
It’s possible I’m going crazy, I told Will that night, after the refrigerator incident.
And so we started looking for Air BnBs near the coast.
The drive to the horse farm was windy and at times one-lane, and although the Google Maps app was mostly a champ, there were times when it was clearly playing catch-up, and “turn right in a quarter mile” became a second later the sputtered command to turn right NOW. The sun was just setting when we passed the entrance to the horse farm and made our way up a remote path until we could turn around. We only had a glimpse of the place by the time we hauled our bags inside and the sun set entirely—vineyards on either side of the driveway, horse stables and a long row of white fencing nearer the road.
The darkness, when it came, seemed absolute.
Will and I tried to order dinner from a Mexican restaurant in the nearest town, but the website wasn’t working, and so he set off into the dark. LG and I settled in like doomed characters in a horror film. It was bright and cheerful enough inside the little house—bedroom, bath, a functional kitchen, a small living area that had been carefully shot in online photos to seem like a much larger living area. The problem was that it was bright inside and dark outside, and there were no curtains to pull over the many windows. I tried the blinds, which seemed to be circa 1980, although a decorator could pinpoint that more accurately, and succeeded in moving one half of one blind six inches before abandoning the quest. The uneven blind drooping in the window drove me crazy, but I didn’t dare trying to even it out for fear the whole thing would come crashing down.
Please send me updates, I texted Will, who was probably just past the gate.
And then I sat back and waited to die.
Well, not really. But I did clutch LG and think, what the hell am I doing? I could be in my own little house where everything is where I want it to be—no fruitless search for a trash can, for example—surrounded by the comfort of my things—a warm blanket, fifteen different streaming services, the rows and rows of my books. (There is a cabinet with books here, and although my inner snobbishness instantly raised its head, they are decent books: Elizabeth Strout, Amy Tan, Larry Watson, some full-color art books, Lean-In by Sheryl Sandberg.) I picked up my phone and scrolled through it—Amy Coney Barrett had just been confirmed by the Senate—and set my phone down. I came to escape all of that.
I came to escape myself.
In the morning, I’m up before the sun—but not much before. I send an email. I work on a flier. I think about opening my manuscript—the last time I worked on it, Sunday morning, I made a major change that scares me a bit—but don’t.
I boil a pot of water and unpack my French press—I’m not reckless enough to leave coffee to chance—and sit down at the kitchen table.
There is a small, fattish spider crawling up the wall three feet from me, and I have not yet crushed it. Have I become a different person, living (for 12 hours now) on a horse farm? There is evidence of other critters, besides the horses—two dogs, one (heartbreakingly and too, too soon) a beagle mix, at least one cat that has driven LG to craziness, something that was potentially under the bed, where LG was very curious to sniff, and some ants that seem to emanate from a bowl of fruit on the table.
(For some reason, every time I have typed “horse” it has come out “hourse”—hours? House? What’s happening here?)
It’s getting lighter, and I can see a horse in the paddock (I have no idea if this is an accurate word) outside the kitchen window. It’s time for a muffin and another cup of coffee and the beginning of this day.
Also the spider has disappeared, which means it could be anywhere.
Paula Treick DeBoard