What’s the difference between a sabbatical and a respite?
Merely length of time.
I’m down at the Chincoteague house, the house that Woody and I renovated in 2001, and from which we were returning to Philadelphia when he dropped his fateful “Let’s join the Peace Corps” announcement I wrote about in At Home on the Kazakh Steppe: A Peace Corps Memoir.
It’s the house with the sun porch overlooking the canal and on which I sat each morning for those seventeen months before we left, reading, journaling, and imagining. And it’s the house we returned to for twelve months before settling in Vermont.
It’s a house I once called home. It’s a rental house now, a mere shell of its former life. But I come down here each year to see what needs to be repaired or replaced. And each time I return, I am reminded that what’s important to me — friendship, family obligations, routine, and familiarity that form the mosaic of my life — are all now in Vermont.
And still I come.
I look at my trips to Chincoteague as a kind of sabbatical, a break with my routine, a respite. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. If I thought of them as all work, I’d despair.
I plan always to intersperse my days of washing bedding and scrubbing windows and walls with hours hiking the nature trails, strolling along the beach, or biking through the wildlife preserve. Too often, though, I don’t.
This trip is different. I have carved out a special week amid the month I’ll be here and have surrounded myself with four women I’ve met over the past year and a half through the magic of the Internet.
Women I want to get to know better.
Writers all, memoirists more specifically, we each have a weekly blog. We also have grandchildren, husbands, and disposable income.
We’ve had varied careers, come from different backgrounds, and live in different parts of the country (though we’re missing someone from the west).
Will it be a writing retreat? Will it be a pajama party? Will it be a time of great introspection and personal growth? Will it be a time of recreation and renewal?
I hope it will be all of the above.
No longer will I ask “what’s the difference between a sabbatical and a respite?”
I’ll just call it a retreat. A writer’s retreat.
How about you? How do you carve out time to replenish yourself?