“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
My writing group spent this past week in a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. I think we all went for the same reason as Mr. Thoreau. We, too, wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. Most of these women have families — spouses, children or grandchildren. But though we are a quilt of many different patchworks, a common thread unites us. Writing.
This might be my favorite group to travel with. Everyone knows what it’s like to travel with family or friends and find it difficult. Someone wants to see every sight right down to a museum exhibit on the history of local postage stamps. Other people don’t want to see anything but the backs of their eyelids. Some are early risers. Some like to stay in the hot tub till 2 a.m., drinking and talking. (I’m both, obviously.) The thing about this group is — for me, it’s like traveling alone, only better. How freeing to be with a bunch of women where there is no pressure or squabbling. To do exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it.
At any given moment someone might be reading, someone else making dinner. Another two might be lost on a hike (literally) while someone else works quietly, watching the mist settle over the mountains. This was a writing retreat, so there was plenty of that, along with lots of appreciation for the beauty of words. What was more unexpected was the depth of comraderie and fact that I could be so relaxed and comfortable away from the comforts of home and my accessibility aids (i.e., special pole, shower bench, etc.) The cabin was advertised as accessible, but that was pretty much a joke. It took three people to help me negotiate the steep ramp, and two more to get me in and out of the shower or hot tub.
But that’s the way this group is. Everyone supports and helps everyone else. I never once felt like I was putting anyone out. A rarity, since traveling with me comes with some unique challenges. There’s something wonderful about spending time with a group of people unlinked by family bonds or shared alma mater. People that come together, instead, over a common interest. Something important to us all.