My husband has been dreaming of buying an apartment in Italy for years. I resisted and resisted, until I finally gave in. In one of our favorite cities -- Rome -- I fell in love with a place that was being used as a vacation rental that we could continue. By the time of the closing, I was more happy about it than my husband, and being in Rome to sign the papers was one of the most exciting times of my life.
But just as I had buckled my seatbelt on the return flight, the former owner wrote. Instead of a gradual transition of the hosting portals, she wanted to de-activate hers and we needed to move all future guests immediately.
When we got home, I began drafting letters to dozens of already-booked travelers telling them about the change in ownership, and asking them to cancel their reservations and re-book with us. I was on the phone 6 times a day with Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking, generating help tickets like a poker dealer. Booking requests, cancellations, and support messages stacked up in inboxes I didn’t even know I had. I got penalty fines, I confused refund policies, I botched prices. I felt like I was running emergency triage on small hotel.
In the midst of the flurry, it was time to host a bi-weekly writing date I had organized for my writing group, but I felt separated from my creative self by an iron wall. All I wanted to do was guard my inboxes and grind down my to-do list. If the writing date had been mine only, I would have flung it off with relief. But I was the host — I had to show up.
When familiar faces began populating the Zoom quilt, I felt calmer. They too had work emergencies, medical appointments, and visiting relatives. But we sat together and devoted the time to our creative selves.
Writing opened an escape hatch, and a skinny line of sentences whistled out. I wrote about the whirling thoughts and the boulder pressing on my lungs. Little by little, the therapeutic healing of writing took care of me. At the end of the session, looking around at the people who had stayed with me for those 2 hours, I felt held.
There will always be big events in our lives. Amazing wonderful ones, and terrible hard ones, and some that are both. By interweaving ourselves with other humans, we have a better chance of withstanding the storms.
It’s now been almost 2 weeks since we unlocked that door in Rome. The guests are all resettled and things are slowing down. I crave the drama and intensity of the urgency state — maybe because the alternative is to collapse. The group is there for me now too.
Creative communities ground me and prevent me from flying too far from my soul’s purpose. What structures and people keep you in touch with yours?