This past weekend, I attended a Fresh Air Conference in New York City. We stayed at a fancy hotel and ate fancy food and watched the fancy Olympics and went to a fancy nightclub and used fancy little bars of soap and rode in fancy elevators.
It was nice.
But after three days of sitting in conferences, milling around the city, eating, eating, and more eating, and spending hours on plans, trains, and metros, I was done. I missed my ordinary existence. I missed making stuff. After awhile I started to feel numb. I was slowly turning into a blob.
There were only a couple times I felt truly alive.
1. At the nightclub, I pulled out my camera and started fiddling with the settings, trying to figure out how to capture the opulent darkness. For a few minutes I was absorbed in what I was doing. It felt good.
Actually, that’s the only time I can think of. There were many enjoyable moments—listening to stories, good conversations, figuring out the art of train travel (trains are awesome)—but there was only that one time that I got deeply absorbed in doing something.
Is this odd?
I don’t consider myself a busy do-do-do person. I have no trouble putting my feet up and being waited on. I’m quite fond of sitting on my arse.
But I need a creative outlet: writing, cooking, making lists, scheming. My much-loved non-productive times are normally measured in hours, not days. And I like my independence; tourism, public transportation, and conference attending are all about being dependent. Or at least they involve a different sort of independent.
On the train ride home, my friend commented that she doesn’t know anyone else who dreads travel as much as I do. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or how much I want to go, for days in advance, I get depressed and sluggish and cranky. It’s like there’s a dread weight pressing in on me, a dark cloud at the end of the tunnel.
My friend, on the other hand (and everyone else I know), looks forward to trips. She savors the planning and anticipation. I think she's nuts. She thinks I'm weird.
Do I just not transition well? This could be it, I suppose. Come to think of it, I dread most things. I dread hosting and appointments and busy days. Once I’m out and about (or the guests have arrived and the event has started), I enjoy myself completely. I get a rush from the activity and love the settling-back-into-my-life tired feeling that I get at the end. The accomplishment of Having Done feels good. But I don’t look forward to events. (Unless it’s something really different, like auditioning for a play or teaching a class or going out all by myself for a morning of writing. But then again, those are creative outlets.)
What about you? Do you dread trips and events and anything that requires you to shift gears and go out? To be contented, do you require the constant pressure of creating?