Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Woods, Writing and Politics

My writing group went on a retreat yesterday, meeting at the camp of one of our members, an hour’s drive away. It was a glorious fall day and we were all welcoming the break from our usual routine. We settled into comfy chairs around a wood stove, pulled out the pieces we’re currently working on and took our turns reading and offering critique. I swear our words sounded more elegant out there in the woods, our critique more concise, our ideas more sound….this environment suited us all just fine!

The “camp” is a spacious house, sprawling across grounds that include several other little buildings such as lean-tos and a gazebo. I could easily picture myself sitting in that gazebo and finishing a poem. There’s plenty of room – inside and out – to gather together OR to find that quiet time that writers need so much. We can’t wait to figure out a time when we can all go back there again, maybe for a longer stretch of time. We know our words will flow there.

As usual, we enjoyed lunch together, too….and talk turned to politics. We had a mayoral election yesterday. It was particularly painful for us, as someone we know was a candidate for the party many of us support. Some of us were finding it difficult to support this particular candidate, however, and had not voted for her in the primary. At lunch time none of us had yet voted; we were still conflicted on how we were going to vote and even IF we were going to vote. We had a rather spirited conversation, weighing the pros and cons of the other candidates. I was even considering casting a write-in vote for one of the members of our group! I loved our conversation; we've learned how to disagree agreeably. It was heavenly.

I did end up voting. I was more terrified of Grandma Priscilla’s rage from the grave haunting me if I did not exercise my right to vote – one she worked so hard to earn for women, as she once was unable to cast her vote herself – that I did not choose to ignore this election in protest as one member of my writing group did, and as I, too, was tempted to do. I did something else that even this morning I cannot believe I did, and those of you who know me well will laugh or cringe or think it may be time to do some kind of intervention when I tell you what I did indeed do in that voting booth: I pulled the lever and voted for a Conservative Republican candidate. (He lost.) I know. I almost can’t believe it myself. Still, I think he was the better candidate. It is the first time in my life I have strayed from the Democratic ticket. I hope it is the last. This guilt is almost too much to carry.

But at least I voted.

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