On the first day of our family vacation, my husband rented a boogie board and my daughter dug holes in the sand.
I lay faceplanted on a towel for two hours, stress radiating off my body and seeping out my pores.
As I lay there, scenes from the previous few days played out. Thoughts of things I should've done at BlogHer -- people I should've met, things I should've said, posts I should've written -- rattled around. Every once in a while, my husband or daughter would come up to me, puzzled at my muteness. I'm normally an energetic person. Instead, I just lay there like a beached whale. Every once in a while, tears trickled out onto the sand.
After the beach, we drove an hour and a half up the coast and I fell asleep somewhere near Miramar, the hard, shuddering, paralysis sort of sleep, the sort I had every night during my vacation. Did you hear the people next door slamming doors? No. Did you hear the storm? No. I heard nothing. I slept the sleep of the dead.
Last week, I built a levee: No email. No Twitter. No blogging. No Internet.
I kept it up all week long, even after we came back home. I took my daughter shopping for school supplies. I went sailing with my husband. I sorted through the clothes I'd worn at BlogHer as though they were someone else's from a different lifetime.
While I was faceplanted in that sand on the beach, I asked myself why modern life is so much, why it all never ends. Maybe it's laptops, I thought. No, maybe it's email on our phones. Or the economy. Or the flexible nature of modern work, yes, that's it!
Maybe. But I don't have to have a blog. I don't have to write a novel. I don't have to volunteer on an arts board. I don't have to work beyond forty hours a week.
I don't have to have any friends.
As we were leaving San Diego, I asked my husband about the sea walls. They seemed pretty short to me, fairly useless against an ocean. He pointed out how far they were up the beach. I thought about the flooding along the Missouri River, how difficult it is to contain surging water.
I have shitty levees in my life.
Yesterday I picked back up the reins after a week away. At five I picked up my daughter and took her to meet her new teacher for second grade. We went to dinner. I gave her a bath, complete with a Wizard of Oz Celebriducks singing contest. I called my parents.
I didn't look at my laptop or my cell phone even though it literally made me nauseous not to do so.
I know from looking at my inboxes this morning that the email piled up against that levee last night. Even now -- by taking the time to take my daughter to summer camp and write this post -- it's threatening to spill over.
Should I move it farther up the beach? Build it higher? Take it down and let the world overwhelm me the way it did right before vacation? My sandbags never seem to hold for longer than two days, and I often grow weary of rebuilding.