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I’m not Distracted – I just need to Settle In.

I am so ready to write.  And it’s going to be perfect and compelling and gripping – even just to write it.  I know it.  I just know it.  How could it not be?  I’m away from home, staying at a hotel until I speak at an event, and this is the most perfect writing environment anyone could ask for.  I’m even sitting by a pool.

I just need to settle in.

When I woke up from the nap that I truly believed I deserved – and even now I don’t regret taking it – I couldn’t decide where to go.  But I was hungry and I wanted and needed to write and read.  I went to Starbucks first.  it’s only just down the block from where I’m staying, and of course it’s so peaceful there.  And everything will be so familiar and I’ll just settle in.


As I was walking in, I actually noticed the perfection of the air.  Everything was perfect.  Gentle sunlight.  Gentler breeze. Maybe I should sit outside.  But first, what to drink?


The guy behind the counter is trying to help me.  He’s also trying to avoid picking up the stack of lids he spilled.  “Customers first,” he said to the passive aggressive girl who thanked him for not picking them up.  He said to me, “It’s company policy that the customer always comes first.  Also, it’s my excuse for everything.”  Happy to help you out then, being the customer and all.


I can’t decide.  He offers choices.

“Hot or cold?”


“Iced or blended?”


“Did you know that anything blended is half off until May 10?”

Make it blended.

“Coffee or no coffee?”

Coffee.  Tell me about the Mocha Chip Frappuccino.

“I could, but I think you’ll like this one even better – the Mocha Cookie Crumble.”  He goes on to tell me some kind of unbelievable greatness about coffee and chocolate whipped cream and a mocha drizzle and probably fairies and unicorns.

Yes.  That.  I’ll take that.


I buy the Frappuccino, half-off, with my name neatly printed on the side: Trish.  I’ve been experimenting for the last few months, telling people this is my name.  Trying it out, almost 35 years after it was given to me n the first place.


Anyway, I walked out Starbucks with my Frapp in hand.  Because it seemed like I should sit outside in all that gloriousness.  But then I thought, if I’m going to sit outside anyway, I should sit outside next to the pool at the hotel.


But then I should get some snacks because a Frappuccino on an empty stomach is perhaps a fast pass to a migraine, and I’m not interested in that routine tonight.  I’ll get something sweet and something salty from… somewhere.


I drive for a long time down a series of one-way, no u-turn streets.  Until finally I find a normal gas station that is wearing the costume of a bistro.  Half of the market is the typical aisles and specials:  Bud Light, Bugles, bad hot dogs.  The other half is tall chairs and tables, deli sandwiches, and gelato.  It’s called Bella’s Market.  But they can’t really fool me, because behind the counter of all the sweet little bistros I’ve been to, they’re not selling cigarettes and lottery tickets.  Good try, though.


I get myself a variety of goodies – a banana, peanut m&m’s, gummy bears instead of Twizzlers, and a bag of the garlic rye chips since they’re the ones I fish out of the party mix anyway.  I think I dropped each one of those – and then all of them at once – three times.  And then I left my car keys on the counter of the gas bistro.


“Are these yours, ma’am?”  Ah, yes.  Thank you.  I’ll just drop them again before I leave.


I came back to the hotel and I changed into my swimsuit.  I took all my snacks down the pool, along with my computer and three books. Yes, three.  But then I couldn’t get in to the pool area; my key wouldn’t work.  it wasn’t until I explored the hotel and found the opposite entrance that I then realized it wasn’t about the key at all, but I just needed to reach over the fence and open it from the other side. Which doesn’t seem very secure to me, but I’ll assume that those who have made it this far have been authorized by someone.  I give myself this false sense of security all the time in one way or another.


I choose a chaise lounge.  But now I need a towel.  Now I need two towels.  Now I realize I forgot my sunglasses.  And a pen.  I gather most of my things, risking the snacks to whomever is unauthorized to sneak into the pool area and steal snacks that have gone unsupervised.  I go to my room and get everything I’ve left behind, and now I wonder why I didn’t pack a small bag to carry things in.  Nope, just two big suitcases filled with scads of And Life Comes Back for the conference at hand, and a rolling carry-on.  Which, if you’re doing the math, makes for three rolling suitcases and one girl.  Picture that at the airport.  Go ahead.  That’s why I didn’t add another bag to my load, and now it seems a little excessive to take my rolling office bag down to the pool.  I mean, I’ve been so subtle up to this point.


I go back to the pool, but now the chaise lounge doesn’t seem like a good fit anymore.  I can’t adjust it for the posture I want, and posture is very important to me now that I’m nearly 35.  I move all of my stuff to the table over there. I spread out with everything just as it would be if I were at a Starbucks table where I chose not to be 45 minutes ago.


Now I’m very conscious of the sun on my skin, which is wonderful and warning me at the same time.  “I know you think I’m all nice and warm and kind, but I’m about to make you so sorry for many days to come.”  So I’ve got to move to the table under the umbrella.


I keep feeling like someone’s about to splash me, though it’s not likely since there is only one other person at the pool area, and he doesn’t seem to be the splashing type.  Apparently I just don’t know what to do with myself without the possibility of someone startling me with a hug with his wet swimsuit.  (I don’t think this one other pool patron is likely to do that either.)


I’m pretty sure Shirley MacClaine just walked by.


I open Dani Shapiro’s book, Still Writing.  (She is joining the ranks with Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamott.)  On the page I open to, she’s writing about the months she spent at an artists’ colony surrounded by silence in faraway places where lunch is dropped off at your cabin in the woods and nobody interrupts your creating and it is all designed to the idyllic space for composers, sculptors, poets, novelists, all living and breathing their work.


I underline ‘artists’ colony,’ planning to google it later.  And then I remember that I have two children and this is not the life stage to go gallivanting off to live somewhere called a ‘colony.’  But I decide to google it anyway, because a girl can dream.


And then – Then! – I read this:


“But I remember the difficulty I always had, settling into an ideal work environment.”


Oh, so I’m not the only one then.  I need some snacks.

Tricia Lott Williford

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