Last week I went on a retreat, and not a moment too soon. After a difficult couple of weeks both at work and home, I was ready to kill. OK then, not kill exactly, but certainly curl up in a corner with a bottle of red wine, a packet of smokes and a blanket and snarl at anyone who tried to make me sing “Kumbaya”. I didn’t want to share, I didn’t want to meditate, I didn’t want to embark on a voyage of discovery. I just wanted 5 bloody minutes to myself to shave my legs and read a page of a magazine without interruption.
We arrived, a group of 30 women connected only by the church we attend, at Loon Lodge, 7km down a potholed logging track on the side of a mountain. It was dark, wet and the accommodation was basic*. I dumped my sleeping bag and opened the wine, safe in my cocoon of misery – I was the only one there with too much work, not enough time and an increasing sense of desperation. No one could possibly understand.
And you know the rest of that story… at least half the women there was going through the same, or worse, and we all feel despair and guilt at times. So we worked on some answers and, I hope, all came away feeling a lot better than we went in. One of the answers was “stop piling up all the individual jobs into an unmanageable mountain, and start enjoying the individual moments.”
This week I have concentrated on enjoying those moments and made a very interesting discovery which I will share with you on this, the eve of Valentine’s Day. The way I feel about Vancouver is very like my marriage. The first rush of love, when we first smelled the fresh, snowy air from the mountains and discovered a new and wonderful view every day, is past. But so is the insecurity of whether our infatuation would last, and stand the test of time. We have been through some dark days, and many grey and wet ones, and we are still here. We still find something lovely every day, even if it is just the way the drips fall from the leaves. This week I shared with some work colleagues that I had asked my husband’s opinion on an outfit and he had said “It makes you look wide.” That wasn’t the point of the story, but their horrified reaction showed that they fully expected the next line would be “So I killed him and buried him under the patio.” When I said that this is normal, that I value his opinion (on most things) and expect him to be honest, one of the most dour and cynical among us said “You guys are for keeps – that marriage is solid.”
I know we are only 2 years in, but we’ve seen the morning-after, hungover, slept-in-your-makeup Vancouver, and we still love it. Perhaps this marriage is solid too.
* I should say, the view in the morning was very different, and Loon Lodge is the most beautiful place, with the kindest people and the best food. It is also home to Camp Goodtimes, the Cancer Society Camp for children with cancer.