Saturday, June 30, 2018

In a Cabin in the Woods

My friend Erin moved away last year, out of my neighbourhood and out of the city. She bought an acreage with this gorgeous old farmhouse on it, and a barn, and a little guest cabin. Her three children will get to grow up like I did—running around unconfined by city blocks and busy roads and other people's pesky property. They seem pretty happy about all that, so far.

Another friend, who happens to be Erin's sister-in-law and whose name is Kate, also moved last year—to a small town just outside of Regina. She's still close enough to maintain the illusion for most of her other friends that she didn't actually "leave," but I am not fooled. Because she, like Erin, used to live within walking distance of my place, and now I have to get into a car and go on the highway to get to her house. That absolutely counts as leaving.

I stayed here. (I will probably always stay here.)

(Also, a funny, completely unrelated thing is that these two women married brothers who grew up in the same small town as me, four hours from here, and their mother-in-law is tight with my mom, but that's not even how I know them. Isn't that a funny thing? And so completely unrelated?)

On to the point of it all:

After she left, Erin kept reminding Kate and me that they had a little cabin on their property that would make a great writing space, and that she wanted us to come use it.

And we said, well, we'd love to come, but we'll just want to sit and visit with you.

And she said, no, you should come write in my cabin.

And we said, but we want to have coffee with you.

And she said, yes, come for coffee.

So yesterday, at last, Kate and I arranged our children into two neat rows in her minivan, threw food, toys, and an iPhone at them (literally, and I hit Kate's four-year-old son in the eye with a plastic Cavendish potato), and travelled to Erin's new home.

We set out from here at 8 am and got there at 10 am. Our kids ran off, revelling in the open spaces both in and outside of the farmhouse. Erin fed us well and gave us coffee. And then, after lunch, we put the younger kids down for their naps and shuffled the older ones into the playroom for joint quiet time (which worked much better than solo quiet time ever has), and Kate and Erin said to me, "Okay. You're going to the cabin to write." Erin had packed a bag with cake and coffee and cream and water bottles and Werther's Originals.

I said, "What's all this? How long am I going to be in there?"

And they said, "As long as it takes."

(To anyone reading this who is not a writer, this sounds kind of mean, maybe? You should know that anyone reading this who is a writer and also a mother at the same time is salivating on their keyboard right now.)

So, obediently, I followed Erin out to the cabin. It was small, an open-concept-with-a-loft-type deal. There were books in all the window sills and a great yellow couch and a table with one chair.

Erin got the coffee going, said, "Haaaaave fuuuuuun..." and shut the front door behind her. The house filled up instantaneously with the kind of quiet I haven't heard in a very long time. Country-quiet. There-is-no-noise-in-the-house-and-not-outside-of-it-either quiet. I took a picture with my laptop, because that is what one does in the absence of a cell phone. Right? CAN'T NOT DOCUMENT.


Then, I sat down in the one chair and started writing, because that was the only thing there was to do. I hadn't grabbed my phone on the way out, so I had no Instagram or Facebook to distract me, no Internet hotspot for my computer, even. I had cake and a whole pot of coffee all to myself. It was incredible! I wrote and wrote and wrote and then, suddenly, inexplicably, I was done writing. Because, I guess, that's how writing works.

I picked up my laptop and went back to the house.

I found Kate in Erin's office, also writing, and Erin in the kitchen with her laptop. Everyone was happy and had gotten something done and the kids were still loving each other and we reconvened and ate more food and discussed our various works and writer's blocks and questions while the kids ran through the sprinkler and jumped on the trampoline.

So that was that. The writing retreat/coffee date was a complete and total success. How nice to be locked in a cabin in the woods by one's friends. How nice to have the kind of friends who know you want to be locked in a cabin in the woods even when you say they shouldn't lock you in a cabin in the woods.

Erin called herself bossy yesterday, and, in this case, she was a little bossy, but she was only being bossy because she wanted to do this super nice thing for me and I wasn't really letting her, so she had to be bossy. And I was kind of proud of her for being bossy too, because I think she had to try pretty hard at it. You can't help but love a person who is only ever bossy when it benefits someone other than them.

Erin and Kate, if you're reading this: next time, I will take the kitchen and you two can duke it out for the delicious cabin-writing experience. We're onto something real good here.

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