I am experiencing mind/body displacement. Time displacement. As spring commenced, I knew that I would be away from home for much of the season (a mixture of spring and summer, spanning May to July, with a couple of weeks rest between trips). The thought made me anxious. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because I wanted the going to be worth it, to manifest as growth and progress and enjoyment, and hey: it did.
Am I back now? I’m back now. I have been to a residency on an island, looked down a flowering hillside at the waves crashing into the shoreline, ridden my bicycle between large comfortable houses, witnessed topiary whales and small-town bars. I have taught at a 10-day intensive program tucked in the hills of North Carolina, hills that rose up above me like lungs on the inhale, covered in green. I have been stressed out. I have been made happy. I believe I have challenged myself.
But now I’m back home. And I’m wondering: how do I transition back into a life of work and calm, when my mind is still spinning out various to-do lists and disaster preparedness rituals? How do I moderate between my desire to lie on the couch and watch TV until my mind oozes out my ears, and my desire to chase the ideas that have been gestating in that pre-ooze—which is to say, how do I know when to rest and not rest?
Summer feels like a natural time for rest, not only because we were taught to view it that way as children, but because the heat is so often too much. Monsoons are starting here in Tucson, which means that it’s a little bit cooler, but the humidity is up. I sit in my tiny inflatable pool and eat cherries and spit the pits in a bowl. I read Shirley Jackson and watch Midsommar (sometimes on the same day; if you’re looking for a creep pairing, may I recommend “The Lottery” and that movie?) and walk the dog with a popsicle dripping onto my fingers. I watch time pass and think, I need to catch it, but it’s 104 outside and I don’t know when the anxiety of production ever ends.
Actually, since I just watched Midsommar yesterday, let me mention that this morning I read an interview with the director, Ari Aster, who also made last year’s living nightmare Hereditary. Apparently, there was such minimal time between the two productions that he was working non-stop for two-point-five years, and his reaction to this was not the need for a vacation—relief that such a break was coming—but nervous uncertainty about whether a vacation would ruin him, and if he could cope with one. I can relate to that.
Anyway. He probably doesn’t watch as much tv as I do, probably isn’t quite so deep in his Veronica Mars rewatch as I am, so maybe I’m doing fine at relaxing; too well, even! I made a lime-coconut icee drink. I baked blueberry muffins. I went grocery shopping. And today I will send this comic out into the world, and then I will decide what to do next. The birds are active; sometimes I see them chasing each other away from the leftover storm puddles. But sometimes I see them sleeping in the trees.