My father called it “re-entry syndrome.” That period, after a time away, when you get back into the life that was waiting on you while you were somewhere else.
Dad had big-time wanderlust. He would take us on really long vacations in the summer. I remember making our way from southern Louisiana to Glacier National Park in Montana in one three-week road trip. That might have been the summer of ’79, when we traversed a portion of the Lewis and Clark trail.
Back then, all that was waiting on me when we returned were the family pets. (Quat the cat, Rin the dog, and Bunny the bunny. Bunny had several nicknames—actually, all the animals did. “Bunny” was itself a nickname—but I won’t get into that here.) Sometimes there were swim lessons. So I had the pets, some swimming, and a lingering dread of the impending school year. That constituted my re-entry back in the day.
It was a different scenario for my father. He had his job as an Air Traffic Controller, his commission in the National Guard, and seven children to raise. That last bit was by no means his responsibility alone—I have to mention Mom here. She liked to travel, too, and was a gentle and quiet constant on all these “vacations.” But I suspect the marathon-no-frills road trips were purely the brainchild of my father. So he only had himself to blame for whatever re-entry awaited him.
After twelve days in Germany and France, I’ve been feeling a bit untethered. I suppose that’s my version of re-entry syndrome. It feels apropos, since my life, by my choice, is not as heavy as my father’s was. There’s a lot less to burn as I enter the atmosphere.
There are some changes happening at my place of employment that are factoring into the feeling. But the state of my writing life is also contributing in a major way. Two manuscripts are out of my hands, awaiting revisions. Lacey’s first story is with the new publisher, and a draft of Lacey’s second story is with an editor. I plan to take the rest of this month off before I start outlining and composing the third.
Some part of me knows that this untethered time is absolutely necessary. Especially for writing. It will give me needed distance from the material, so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes and renewed vigor.
But I miss the discipline of working on it every day. And what will happen if I let myself get too distant? Will my capacity diminish, along with my prospects? What if a big rogue wave comes up and displaces my little unmoored dinghy somewhere really far away?
Come to think of it, that might make a pretty good story. One person, alone in the ocean in a small boat. Though I think it’s been done a few times before. 😉