The Great Escape (‘Knowing When to Say When’, Take Two)

My husband is one of the most calm, gentle men I have ever known- he’s a yoga teacher and massage therapist, for God’s sake. But I could see the cracks starting to form. He has had a heavy work schedule at the performing arts theater he manages all through the spring and summer, and that, combined with no time off, spelled one stressed out man. 

  In the ten years that Dan and I have been together, we have always appreciated the idea of an escape- even a short one- to recharge our batteries and reset our attitudes. This summer, and the semester before it, hadn’t allowed us the opportunity to escape. With two very busy careers in the arts, at least one of us is working most weekends. Our trip to Italy for my conference was wonderful, transformative…but also very stressful, both in preparations for the trip and my performance…and international travel is just plain stress-inducing. We wouldn’t change the experience for anything, but we got to the end of the summer feeling depleted, tired…not a great way to start what would be an insanely busy semester. 

As things ramped up, I saw my normally Zen husband become short-tempered, preoccupied with work. He wasn’t sleeping well, and I was worried about him. I began to send up prayers to the Universe for something to change, something to give my sweet man some relief. Someone was listening….at the pinnacle of his most difficult time, Dan came home late Wednesday night and told me that the show was off.  We sat on the sun porch with the pups, giving him a chance to vent. He seemed so tired, so low. All of the sudden, it popped into my head…could we? Should we? Could we take this suddenly free weekend- the last one for two months- and go to the beach? Make the Great Escape? I ran the idea past Dan, and he was excited, but realized that several things would have to fall into place for us to leave town on such short notice; Dan would have to be able to get a sub for his Saturday morning yoga class: check. We would have to secure a condo at the beach: check. Our pet sitter would have to be available: check. I would have to take care of some things to make sure Mom would be okay through the weekend: check. What do you know? It was going to work!

  We never did things like this so spontaneously. Ever. We planned our trips. Every. Detail. Well, it was time for the Gaineys to start living on the edge.  Here’s to a bit of spontaneity in life. We quickly packed. I got up at chicken-thirty to go to school, practice and teach my morning class and clarinet students.  Then, we jumped in the Bug and headed to Florida. 

 As we drove down the highway, we already felt lighter, every mile that passed made this impetuous, spur-of-the-moment trip become more real to us. We made it to our destination in time to walk down the beach, rum runner in hand, to watch the sun begin to set. We sat in the sand, watched the waves crash, talked and laughed. We just were. When was the last time we were able to really let go, free from our many responsibilities, and just relax? It had been quite a while. We pledged to enjoy every moment of the weekend to the hilt. 

 And so we are, toes in the sand, sun bright on our faces, watching dolphins jump in the ocean, seagulls investigating the sand along the shoreline. I see my man morphing back into his sweet self, reclaiming his center. And what did it take? A bit of spontaneity, a bit of magic? Whatever it was, I am deeply grateful. 

 I had better get back at it.  There are waves to watch, sunsets to enjoy, walks to take, seafood to eat. Now, where is my suntan lotion?

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