I just returned from a long overdue few days away with my wife. Juggling the holiday custody schedule is a common activity and something that we have grown accustomed to in the past five years. This year the boys were with their dad for the week before and week of Christmas so we took advantage of the break. My oldest, home from college, agreed to tend to our dog. Because of our busy and odd work schedules, we are somewhat limited in when we can find the time to take any overnight trips. There are many reasons why, one of which happens to be that we belong to the group of pet owners who cannot bear the thought of our pet being boarded at the vet. We logically know she would be fine, but still.
Typically, we head beach side when we are unplugging and recharging our batteries. This time we opted for a different locale. We found a lovely river home in Putnam County, Crescent City to be exact, to call home for a few days. We both wanted peace and quiet and to not have to interact with any people unless we chose to. I am the official lodging booker in the family. I am thrilled my wife is so trusting of my choices and I must say that I do have a pretty good track record so far with picking winning accommodations (disclaimer: I also have to say that the list is pretty short.) This one was perfect. Our only plans were not to do much of anything and we succeeded.
I learned many things in the three days that we were away. First, I am terrible at unplugging and recharging. Going from sixty to zero miles an hour is a strange feeling for me. I usually have fifty things happening at the same time in any given day and when there is nothing immediate that needs my attention, my brain panics. It takes me some time to wind down and get used to the idea of relaxing, but once my brain unclenches, I am gloriously happy.
The environment was exactly what I had envisioned for the trip. There were multiple docks, beautiful oaks draped with moss and water views in just about every direction. It did not even matter that it rained most of the first day we were there. Aside from the occasional passing boat, the only sounds we heard regularly were fish jumping in the river and birds. It was the definition of peace and quiet in action, aside from what we believe were occasional gun shots in the distance. Seriously.
Which brings me to the second thing that I learned. There are not nearly enough moments of peace and quiet in my life. Which is something that I need to work on. The night we returned home we noticed how many noises bombard us on a daily basis. I have gotten used to the internal chatter that happens in between my ears paired with the external sounds of life happening around me.
After being in such a tranquil place, returning home was very difficult. Our taste of solitude only made our awareness of the noise all around us grow and wish we could soundproof more days of our lives. We all know that noise is everywhere, but I realized the value of learning how to be still during the busiest of days.
This is the time of year where everyone seems to become consumed with the business of the holiday season. Leaving the house in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas is something that I try to avoid. Many years ago I came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to spend my days running around at a frantic pace exhausting myself for the sake of shopping or preparing for the season. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I chose to focus on the important things around me. Spending more time with my family and friends enjoying the present moment and less time worrying about the little things has transformed our household. The Waters approach to the holidays may look boring to some or seem strange, but it has taught us all how to strive to keep life simple.
The river house was a reminder of the simple life, but it was also a reminder of how complicated living openly as gay women can be at times. The area we visited was quintessential old Florida, which is the most polite way I can think of to say Good Ole Boy land. Confederate flag flying God fearing folk were all around us. We knew going in that it would be in our best interest to lay low and be sisterly if we did venture out.
We intended to try a local restaurant for breakfast one of the mornings. Our plan changed when we saw the graphic for the band that was planned to play the night before. Let’s just say that it did not give us a positive vibe and gave us a fairly good indication that our kind may not be welcomed with smiles and handshakes.
My wife was all for going until I pointed out my look and the attire that I brought was a walking billboard for the lesbian lifestyle. Let’s just say that my backward baseball cap, shaved hair and sporty duds did not exactly fit the local flavor of the area. Unfortunately, I did not pack my dresses and heels for the trip.
We were perfectly content to only venture out to the Circle K when we needed some junk food and lotto tickets and admittedly I wanted to get in and get out as quickly as possible. I felt completely at peace with the decision to lay low and did not give it a second thought once we opted out of our $3.95 breakfast. The third thing I learned was that being fearless and being wise are too totally different things sometimes, especially when travelling to a new location.
As another year winds down, my hope is for everyone to remember the lessons that I learned about the need for peace, living simply, and being wise not only during the holiday season, but all year long. My family and I sincerely wish everyone a healthy, happy, and blessed new year that is filled with prosperity, growth and all the love in the world.
taken by Yvette Waters Photography, aka my talented and gorgeous wife.