So, the other night, Mike and I are up late, getting in some good conversation before my four day writing retreat, relishing the fact that it’s no longer Lent and we can drink wine even though it’s a TUESDAY.
I planned this retreat so I could work on a big project that’s been plaguing me for some time… say, like 20 years. I’ve dipped my toes into it a couple of times, but the water was cold and scary so I just dried off and went back to things more comfortable. And still, it won’t go away. I decided I needed a block of time, away from everything, to just dive in – get all wet, splash around and sputter, try to get used to the iciness without six people watching me cuss and drown.
We happen to have amazing friends who own and rent out a beautiful lake house just an hour from Nashville (Fellow writers, check this out: www.cabininthecove.com) which of course is the perfect distance: far enough to be out of town, but not so far that you waste a day getting there. I reserved the house several weeks ago and spent the time leading up to the trip stalking the online photos, trying to get a jump start on the experience. But by Tuesday night ( I was leaving Wednesday) I’d started to get anxious. It felt like my birthday.
Every year on my birthday my husband tries to give me a day that is all my own. I can play board games all day with the kids (yeah, right), I can go out walking in the woods or window shopping, I can stay in bed and watch bad TV… whatever I want. It’s fabulous.
I get paralyzed by possibility. (I went to visit my best friend in NYC many years ago and asked where we should go for dinner. She said she didn’t know – she always just ordered pizza because she was overwhelmed by the choices. It’s like that.) I spend a good portion of my birthday stressed out that I’m not picking the right thing, that I’m throwing away my shot.
Here I had four whole days to do nothing but write. But what if I wrote about the wrong thing? What if everything I wrote was crappy? What if I wandered four days into the wilderness only to wind up completely lost hoping for the National Guard of Writers to come rescue me?
I decided it would be best to have a back up plan. Something truly accomplishable that I could fall back on should everything else fail. Mike and I brainstormed blog posts.
I asked if he would feel comfortable with me writing about married sex. You know, not here on Life in the Circus, but somewhere else, where less people knew us.
He asked if I could use a pseudonym.
I said that would pretty much defeat the purpose of writing from a place of authenticity.
He asked what I would write about.
I said something along the lines of: the reality of having the same partner for ten, twenty, forty years; the challenge of calibrating needs and desires, ebbs and flows… nothing gritty.
He hemmed and hawed, well-maybed, I-don’t-knowed, it-depends.
And then I got frustrated. And sometimes when I get frustrated I get just the tiniest bit loud.
“Come on! Why are single people the only ones allowed to talk about sex? There’s nothing shameful about it. I’m not going to be graphic. Married people are SUPPOSED to have sex for god’s sake, why are we pretending like it’s a secret?”
At which point we both noticed Zoë standing at the edge of the living room.
“Um…,” she stammered, “I don’t know if you are aware, but there is a little girl asleep at the top of the stairs. I went to use the bathroom and I almost tripped over her.”
Mike and I turned fifty shades of crimson.
There was, in fact, a child asleep on the stairs.
So, here’s my question: that counts as “The Talk” right?
Two down. Three to go.