Friday, February 03, 2006

Has it been a week already?

Time flies whether or not you are having fun, and I was having fun last week right about this time. I was only a few hours into my weekend away, my solo sojourn up at the Inn on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

On Friday morning, I dropped the children off at my mother's house, and then I hit the road. Floating down the highway on the clouds of my imagination, listening to pop music, then National Public Radio, then the book of Romans on CD, and finally silence. Interesting mix of entertainment, if I do say so myself. I arrived in the town of Asheville a little after midday, did some walking on its hilly streets, some window shopping, then some actual shopping, then sat down for lunch at The Laughing Seed, a famously colorful and wonderfully creative vegetarian restaurant. I ordered Indian pakoras with a cool yogurt sauce and a spicy red sauce. That was followed by what they call "The Fireside Foccacia Melt." Or something along those lines. Roasted root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, spinach pesto, some kind of divine melted cheese, all served on warm bread, drizzled with a balsamic dressing: absolutely tongue-twisting. The two women at the table next to mine asked me what I'd ordered and promised to order it the next time they were there. It was my second time having that meal, and I loved it more this second time than the first. Yerba Mate Royale tea boosted my energy levels and warmed me to the core.

Just before 3 PM, I checked into the Inn and made my way to room 483, that last room at the end of the last corridor. Quiet. Solitary. Warm. Cozy. Mine. I unpacked my clothes and cosmetics. I set up my computer and my cooler of goodies. I pulled back the cover on the bed, laid down on the crisp white sheets and looked out the window at the misty mountaintops in the distance. This was to be my home away from home for the weekend. Perfect.

Lest I get too comfortable and immovable, I grabbed the indispensible journal, markers, camera, tossed them into my backpack, donned my boots, and took off for a walk along a short trail down to the Biltmore Winery and Bistro. On the way, I met a kind Southern gentleman with two rather large horses that he invited me to pet and have my picture taken with them. "No, thank you, sir; I'm terrified of horses," is what I wanted to say. Instead, I stuck out one hand to touch one of those massive animals, and sensing my fear, he pulled his huge head back and snorted at me. Enough said. I backed away, snuck a peek at the chickens and mohair goats across the farmyard, and quickened my pace toward the bistro. I simply cannot imagine what motivated that first human being to get on top of a horse and have the audacity to think it wouldn't kill him instantly. Horses really frighten me.

I soothed my fear with a small pot of African Amber tea in the rather lush library up at the inn. I journaled. I read. I listened to a group of New Yorkers who'd come South for the weekend. They talked about their au-pairs, the architects remodeling their homes, clothes they'd bought at auction, and whose children were better behaved. They told stories of movie and rock stars they'd met in casual settings and regaled one another with stories of relational and financial triumphs. They really frightened me also.

I soothed that fear with a long soak in my room's Jacuzzi tub. A bath bomb purchased months ago in London at Lush (Kim, I can never thank you enough for introducing me to that fabulous store!) left me smelling lemony and feeling fine. I crawled into bed with my milk chocolate pecan clusters, a novel by Chris Bohjalian, and a cup of ice water. Strange mix, I know, but drinking ice water in bed is a recently developed habit that I’m finding hard to break. Anyway, I fell asleep with the book in the bed next to me and awoke to the sound of silence. No dog barking to be taken out. No alarm clock to swat. No homeschool lessons to plan or laundry to do or meals to prepare. Perfect.

Saturday was spent reading, journaling, walking, attending a cooking demonstration down at the winery, reading some more, writing on my computer, and soaking in another Lush bath. Reeking of orange oil, I sat at a window table in the Inn’s dining room, watching the sun set, eating sashimi with warm pineapple, duck prepared four ways, and crème brulee, all washed down with a gin and tonic. What can I say? I’m an eclectic eater. But since I was alone, I didn’t have to explain my choices to anyone. It was my meal, my weekend, my way. Perfect.

It’s hard to believe that one week ago right now, I was sitting at the desk of room 483 working on a list of 100 things that I love about myself, making a collage in my journal, and gazing at my image in the mirror on the wall opposite my chair. Alone with The Alone. Being renewed. Rejuvenated. Reconnecting with myself. Reminding myself of the relationships, the people, and the places in my life that matter most. I ate well. I slept well. I traveled well. I returned well. And here I sit at my desk in the homeschooling room, getting ready to take Kristiana to basketball practice, looking back on a weekend well spent, rereading my journal entries from last week, and looking forward to making new journal entries in the hours, days, and weeks to come. Perfect.

Life is good.
God is good.

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