The 2006 Writing Retreat proved to be similar in the previous two in that it was eventful. My morning started differently, feeling sick (no matter how many times I move students around, I seem to move the soon-to-be sick one nearer me) but shook it off after a few phone calls—people thought that I was hung over. I also didn’t want to miss spending time with writing project teachers, time being one thing we are always short on.
I made the drive up 287, over roads carved between powder red ridges of rock, and through the trees of the foothills. I had to resist the urge to stop at a few places, walk the sides of the roads and write, but I was already late and didn’t want to miss any of the conversations and writing ideas I knew they were already sharing. I stopped in a restaurant much like any small town restaurant you’d come across in the mountains: the air thick with the smell of fat and grease from cooking food, the smell of wood smoke, and the wind blowing the scent of mountain soil, pine trees down into my face before I walked in. I ate quickly, took note that there was but one beer on draft, paid and left.
I made my way over dirt roads, some damp, some powdery, to the cabin. I was greeted by several teachers, with things that I can’t repeat, when I finally made it.
Now, to protect the innocent, and not so innocent, I will use nicknames for all involved.
After bringing in all of my things, I, known as Token, joined Apple Pie, Light Switch, Brickhouse, Weekend, Uniquely Beautiful and Blue Eyes at the hot tub. We enjoyed each other’s company, a writing prompt, and took time to share. It took quite a long time to share, with all the bathroom breaks and stories.
With the prompt of, Write about a word you or your parents used that was not really a word, Brickhouse had me in tears with, “I think someone burped a Sami, because it sure smells like Job-ee.”
Blue Eyes with her gorgeous rhythm, her incredibly smart prose, read a story about how people in her family who didn’t use the correct alternative language.
Weekend, among the many stories she told, read a story about boys, their propensity of getting naked in their youth, and the many other strange things they do.
Light Switch, a nickname earned after drinking one particular beverage, ten of them, and then changing, and also feeling that change as quick as a light switch, read about the foolish things parents do and don’t say to their children.
I unfortunately can’t remember what everyone read—I too was a little…distracted—but remember laughing until my face and stomach hurt before moving inside. We ate, went back to the hot tub, and told more stories, read some poetry, and talked some more.
When the cold finally chased us inside, we made a fire, laughed at how foolish we all have been in our youth, told stories about our loved ones, and crawled into sleep. We all started in the loft, packed in, giggling like children, before we realized we wouldn’t get to sleep this way. Brickhouse went to another bed, and Apple Pie went to another one as well, her fear of heights getting the better of her. Uniquely Beautiful and Light Switch slept near me, and I, being the token male, had to make a crack after coming back from the bathroom if someone burped a sami, cause it smelled like Job-ee, and grabbed a few small laughs.
We woke with the smell of smoke still in the air, some of us not feeling very well, before cleaning up, trading big hugs and driving home.
I hope you can all make it next year. It’s like summer camp for big, dysfunctional kids.