I’m pretty sure I thought of something I could blog about. But then all the things I can’t blog about crowded out the one good idea I had. So. That leaves us sitting here breathing in an awkward silence.
. . . sigh . . .
Oh wait. I was going to tell you about going to Grand Rapids a hundred years ago. Or last week or two weeks ago. Whenever it was.
I never adjusted to the time zone. I arrived at about 10 p.m. and called my long-time friend, Diane. She’d mentioned that she could pick me up from the airport but I’d arrived in Grand Rapids before she did. She was driving in a caravan of three vans from Missouri (with a few dozen college students and some university colleagues). I caught a shuttle van, instead, riding with two other women. One in particular was quite friendly and it turned out we three were all in town for the same conference: Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing.
We made small talk. I was so tired. I felt like I’d traveled all day by camel through the desert heat.
At the Ramada Inn, I stepped to the front desk first to check into the room. I offered the name I had been given, the name of the woman who’d reserved the room. For, yes, I was to stay in a room with my friend of 25 years and two unknown women, colleagues of my friend.
When I uttered the name of the other woman, one of the shuttle-van women stepped forward and said, “I’m in that room, too.”
Which led to a very odd stretch of time in which I checked into a hotel room with a complete stranger. And then I claimed the bed near the window, cranked up the air conditioner to banish the stuffy air and tried to avoid eavesdropping on her conversation with her husband and small children.
At long last, my friend arrived and it honestly felt as if no time had passed at all. We picked up the conversation we’ve been having forever: “Your hair is cute like that!” and “I’ve gained weight . . . no, you look great!” . . . that sort of thing. Then we sat on the bed and scrolled through photos of our kids on our iPhones to share with each other.
Then the fourth woman staying in the room arrived and asked if we could please turn the air conditioner off.
The time zone thing. That continued to be a problem, too.
I normally work until midnight, then I stay up another hour. Sometimes, two. Not on purpose, really, but right now it is past 1:30 a.m. and I am busy writing blog posts and who can even remember what else.
In Grand Rapids, the time is three hours later. So, we went to bed at 11:30 p.m that first night. Which, in my West Coast body was only 8:30 p.m. So I could not sleep.
I am a finicky sleeper, the older I get, so I mostly pretended to sleep so I wouldn’t disturb my slumbering roommates. And the room was stuffy. That did not help.
At 1 a.m., I had just begun to drift off to sleep and I received a text message from a West Coast friend. Not. Good.
Then I was awake until 2:45 a.m. I woke up at 5:30 a.m., certain it was 7 a.m. but it was not. Then at 7 a.m., just after I’d fallen asleep again, it was time to wake up. In my West Coast body, that was 4 a.m.
But whatever. The first night was the worst. The other nights were a little better.
The conference itself was inspiring and refreshing and fun. I heard Stephanie Kallos (Broken for You), Mary Karr (Liar’s Club, Cherry, Lit), Michael Perry, Kate Dicamillo (The Tale of Despereaux), Eugene Peterson (The Message), Sara Miles (Jesus Freak), Ed Dobson (The Year of Living Like Jesus) and Joshilyn Jackson (Gods in Alabama). I loved it all. Mary Karr rocked. So did Kate Dicamillo and Joshilyn Jackson. Everyone, really.
There were more. I’m pretty sure there were more.
I also talked and talked with my long-time friend. I cannot believe it had been ten years since we’d last met in person because we picked up exactly where we left off. That’s a good friend. She knows all my stories better than anyone else.
She’s a university professor and so I experienced the long-forgotten delight of sitting in a hotel room with a handful of college students who have their whole lives stretching out in front of them. I was aware of being forty-five and yet being a college student myself seemed like only one step away. One giant step, but only one step. Time warp, for sure.
Oh, and a highlight of my trip was spending a morning and lunch with Judy of Anybody Home. I’ve known Judy through my blog and her delightful blog for years now. Years. Which is weird to think of. Anyway, she picked me up and took me thrift store and antique store shopping. We got some good bargains and had a lovely morning of exchanging stories. She drove me around her hometown and pointed out various houses where she’s lived. She took me on a tour of her house and her amazing basement craft area. We had lunch. I love Judy. She feels like family to me, maybe because we share Dutch blood or Midwestern roots or a love of a bargain. I don’t know but it’s something of a small miracle when you find a connection with someone so far away through the magic of the Internet and words on a blog.
I left my house on Wednesday morning. I returned on Sunday afternoon. The days in between were a blur, a happy blur of books and ideas and friends. But not much sleep.
And now I don’t even know how long I’ve been back (two weeks? ) but it’s as if I never left. The carpet needs to be vacuumed, the teenagers are behind in schoolwork, my shoes are jumbled in a pile in front of my dresser. I have stacks of books by my bed–even more than before–and I am still perplexed by the impossible task of finishing writing my own novel in the scraps of time torn from my life.
In the meantime, I need to sleep. I am still trying to catch up after the torturous Eastern Standard Time zone.