Two Versions of the Story

The Enchanted Version...

I will only disclose a few details.

I drove down this dirt road.

I went through these doors.

I found this sunset on the back deck.

I sat in these chairs, with these blankets,  sipping this wine until the sky turned pink and grew dark.

I sat at this table early in the morning sipping coffee. There was a woodpecker with a little red nose on the tree outside the window. I watched him for an entire hour.

I wrote the outline for my book in this window sill. Themes. Stories. Ideas. They flooded in past midnight.

And then I celebrated with this bowl of heaven.  Half a pound of 43% Venezuelan chocolate with two huge tablespoons of peanut butter.


And it was good.

The Real Version...

About half way through the drive from Dallas to this secluded lake house the thought occurred to me, "I wonder if I can make it on my own?" I'm sure this sounds silly to those of you who are single or younger or highly independent. But I've spent almost nine years married to a man who sort of runs the show (behind the scenes, that is). I just show up and exist. It's actually a very spoiled, charmed life he has created for me. Pathetic, I know.

Now drop me off at any airport and I can navigate myself through cabs, bus rides, subway systems, hotels, and any other big city conundrum the world can throw at me- all by myself, like a big girl, I can do it. But a cabin? Where I have to go outside and turn the water on? Cook my own food? Figure out how to flip breakers and get the heat to work and settle down to go to sleep by myself in the pitch black dark, in the middle of the woods? I started to slightly panic as I pulled off onto my third farm road.  This one without asphalt. Just gravel.

When I got to the lake house it was really cold inside. Really. Cold. I thought my lips were turning blue. I thought my fingernails were turning purple. I thought I would have to spend the night in my car (it was warmer outside than in the house by 20 degrees or so). I found a blue Snuggie and officially apologized for all the times I have belittled the Snuggie.  I went outside, found cell phone signal, and texted Ryan: my lips are turning blue.

He didn’t believe me.

I came back in and settled down on the couch. And that's when I heard a critter. A real live critter.

There was a critter upstairs. I am sure of it. I heard it eating and licking its paws and scampering around. I froze. I thought it was walking down the stairs. I looked for a weapon but I couldn't find anything in arm's length. I was about to be attacked by an animal who had been pent up in a meat locker. I made a run for it.

I ran outside, arm in the air, waving my phone around looking for a signal. I texted Ryan: there is a critter in the house.

He said to go back in scream and run around the house with a broom to scare it.

So I did. I ran in circles with a broom screaming at the top of my lungs.

Come er’ racooney cooney cooney. Here varmint varmint varmint. Here critter critter critter.

I screamed out loud. And ran around scared out of my mind swatting the broom in the air and hitting the staircase with it. for a solid five minutes.


The critter went into hiding. And I lived with the knowledge that I would be eaten in my sleep.

I talked out loud to myself all weekend. It was too quiet. So I simply made an agreement with myself early on: If I think it, I will speak it loud. “Are we ready to eat? YES!!! Let’s eat!!!” “Should we nap? YES WE CAN!” I found myself chanting Obama campaign slogans out loud and then doing the Arsenio Hall hoo-hoo-hoo around the house. Ok, confession, I also sang "I'm Proud to be An American" at least two... maybe... three times through at the top of my lungs while running around the house, doing a patriotic dance. You might think I'm making this up- but sadly- this is an entirely true story. I might be clinically insane (though delightfully happy).

I decided it was time for wine and book reading by the water while the sun was setting.

I couldn’t open the wine bottle. It never occurred to me that I had never opened a wine  bottle by myself. It reminded me of the fact that it never occurred to me to learn how to light a match until my senior year of high school. Once I realized I couldn’t do it, my mom laughed at me and said she thought it was common knowledge- as if you just wake up one day and learn to light a match??? Yeah right mom. Then it was too late. I earnestly tried to learn, but I feared for my finger. I didn’t want to lose a finger. I hadn't even made it to college yet. If you’re going to lose a finger it’s got to happen way after college. I would strike the match on a matchbook and then drop it or throw it.

My dad thought I was going to burn the house down. He suggested I stick with those little stick thingies that light with the click of a finger.

Anyways, I learned to light a match later in life. And after fifteen minutes and two blisters on my hand, I learned to open a wine bottle too.

After an evening on the lake I went back to the meat locker. “I hate that no one ever believes me. I might die of hypothermia,” I said out loud.

I go to the bathroom for the first time. I open the lid to the toilet. There is a solid sheet of ice. I try to flush. In retrospect, trying to flush might not have been the best idea. I really needed to pee but I didn’t want it to bounce back up on me, or worse, re-freeze and make yellow ice. So I tried flushing and it didn't budge.

I went to the kitchen and got a fork. I went back to the toilet and started to pick at the ice. It was deeper than I thought it was. A fork alone would not do the trick. I went back to the kitchen and filled up glasses of hot water. I poured it in and took my ice pick out. Pretty soon, I got three flushes of slushy toilet water down. I finally had an open bowl. A landing strip. I could relieve myself.

At 2:00 a.m. I had had enough. I got the biggest flashlight I could find and I went on a hunt for the critter who was licking his paws and eating. It was all very Blair Witch Project. And then I found him. Whoever he was. He was running around inside the ceiling... and I went to bed peacefully dreaming of a little squirrel family, The Nelsons, who sang songs and worked their days away in the ceiling of a lovely lake house.

And that's it people. There's no proper way to end this story. I've thought about it. And there really is no ending. After getting over my fears and spastic tendencies, I spent the rest of the weekend eating fruit, cheese, and bread and writing my little heart out. And besides a big black poisonous spider that hung out in the shower and made it impossible for me to bathe... it was the perfect getaway from the world.

And I did it all by myself.