Returning Home From The Retreat

by justine

Your car, barreling down the 5 at 70mph. The last hour, torture.
The dog a whirling dervish of wiggles, following at your heels as you go back and forth
One, two, three times
to lug all of your shit in. Bags of clothes, food, camera and paintings.
Paintings.
Putting your hands in the wet acrylic pain. Was that just yesterday, a mere 36 hours ago?

It feels as if a lifetime happened at the retreat, and since.

Not a single thing is cleaned up or taken care of. Unscrewing the broken toilet paper holder from the wall, changing the garbage bag in the bathroom, stripping the bed and putting on a duvet cover – knowing that, even if the apartment is filthy, clean sheets will make you happy.

You already feel rusty.
Feeling the weight – the shoulds and responsibilities – come raging back. Not one load of laundry folded. Not one sink cleaned. Feeling like you have to do it all.

Then, you remember your practices, shooting photos on a walk with the dog – the golden hour, captured. Your heart beat calms.

Returning home from the retreat, you talk to Mom, eat leftover chili, watch football on in the background, text your sister, eat 5 Oreos, wait for a locksmith.
Get a new door knob.

Returning home from the retreat you see the sticky, dusty residue on the counter tops. Feel crap from the carpet stick to your toes. No one’s watered the plants so you pour water from the dog bowl over them.

Returning home from the retreat you can already feel the magic slipping away – bright and calm self squashed under the realities of “home”.

Is this how addicts feel – free from their programs, but not their minds? Is this when the “real work” starts? And what about soldiers? How do they leave the monotony, the camaraderie, the danger and go back to driving automatics and waking to an alarm?

All of us women scattered. The retreat a dream we once had – the magic and the calm dissipating – like ripples on a still pond.

Plop. One pebble after another.
A handful of rice tossed into the air on a wedding day.
A fist of balloons, released.
(It is everything and it is nothing an echo says)

Driving back into LA, you pine for the pines. The leaves falling. The sun at a different angle, less harsh. Cleans pants and a/c that works.

And you know you can build your own little world right (write) inside here. A nest or a hovel or a den. The way animals settle in and dream.

Returning home from the retreat.

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