Saturday, May 23, 2009

I'm Not As Flexible As I Thought

By John Gilstrap

First things first: Thank you, John Miller, for swapping posting days with me. For those of you who showed up here today to read his words instead of mine (and who would not?), please scroll down . . .

I just returned from the worst week at the beach that I've ever endured. It all seemed like such a sure thing: I was with some of my favorite people, in Hilton Head, SC, one of the most beautiful resorts on the planet. I love Hilton Head. The plan was that we would arrive on Saturday evening and leave the following Saturday morning (that would be today). I would wake up early, as I always do at the beach (and only at the beach), get in an hour or so of writing in the early morning calm, and then we would head to the beach. After a few hours in the sun, occasionally visiting the outside bar, I would excuse myself from the group and log a few extra writing hours before cocktail time. It was going to be perfect.

Then the rain came. I don't mean drizzle, folks. No misting, spitting or fog. I mean rain. Go watch the movie Platoon or Singing in the Rain if you need perspective. Gulley-washers, we used to call them when I was a kid. As if the sky was one big water balloon and someone popped it.

For five days. That would be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have no idea what Friday was like because we pulled the plug on Thursday morning and drove home. Not until, however, we had the honor of experiencing the coldest temperatures ever recorded in Hilton Head in May. Ever. A high of 53 on Monday. (Hint: I did not pack for winter.)

So, when you take the sun out of the equation for a beach trip, you're left with movies (Angels & Demons was very good, I thought, as was State of Play. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was exactly what you'd expect it to be, and Miller, before you get going, I'll remind you that I was not traveling alone.), shopping (there was a rush on anything that was a) waterproof, b) warm, or c) both.) or hanging around a two-bedroom condo while four adults stared at each other pretending that it would somehow get better.

I used to tell people that I could write anywhere. Airport departure lounges, coffee shops, hotels, just about anyplace is a fine place to sit and write. I discovered the exception this week. I cannot, in fact, do any meaningful work in a two-bedroom condo where the only desk-like bit of furniture is the dining table in the middle of everything. Those other three adults staring at each other pretending that things would get better didn't help a bit.

It's sort of poetic, I think, that Miller's post yesterday dealt so poetically with rain. I concur that it has its place. I like flowers and human survival as much as the next guy. But would a single day of sun have been too much to ask?


  1. Note to John: When you to the beach, be sure it's on the WEST coast.

  2. 53 degrees is winter? Where on earth do you live, anyway?

    53 degrees, to a lot of us northerners, is a balmy day!

  3. Sorry about your busted vacation weather, John! Hate to rub it in about the West coast, but it's another drop-dead gorgeous day here; I'm staring out from my deck through a stand of palm trees at the ocean, with wild parrots fluttering and squawking from tree to tree. On the downside, we did have an unnerving 4.7 earthquake in LA the other night. Oh yeah, and double-digit unemployment. Well, at least the weather's nice!

  4. 53 Degrees? It was the same temperature here in Alaska. And folks were out in T-shirts and Shorts washing their cars.

    Then again, its a dry cold here....whatever that means.