As some of you know, I returned from a family vacation in
It will likely take me months to fully absorb all that I’ve seen and done since June 19th. Being in
was, for me, like throwing myself into the arms of a new and particularly fervent lover. With the exception of one awful pizza in Italy , when this suitor placed a meal before me, it was meant to feed my soul not just my body. The wine, while never indulged in to the point of drunkenness, left me warm, satiated, and grinning like a Cheshire cat. Even the air was seductive – often infused with the scent of jasmine. Around every bend in the narrow winding roads was something unexpected: a Roman ruin, an Etruscan tomb, an ancient and gnarled olive tree, a castle, a village perched precariously upon a cliff, a Tuscan valley so dramatic and beautiful I could do nothing but stare and weep. I have no doubt that heaven looks like Siena . Tuscany
As a writer of historical fiction, this sensory overload included a whole other dimension lost on the rest of my family. I would look at a medieval street and marvel at how similar it all would have looked a thousand years ago. My daughters laughed at me because I could not stop touching stone walls and dipping my hand into every fountain. I noticed by the end, though, that Sasha began picking up stones from places that obviously moved her. I’m sure her future husband will be as baffled by that habit as mine is.
I brought my laptop with me but never opened it. In fact, I didn’t give my WIP a single passing thought. Despite having a torn ligament in my foot, I climbed the bell tower in Siena, explored the ruins of Hadrian’s villa and the catacombs, ate wild boar, navigated Rome by train, subway, car, streetcar and city bus, indulged in a daily gelato, toured the castle where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married, had an audience with the Pope, swam in the Mediterranean, and watched as my children made friends with a little girl who spoke no English. Watching Sasha and Ashlyn thrive on the freedom of being in a country where children are adored and fretted over was the most rewarding part of the whole adventure. They didn’t particularly want to come home.
Now that I am back in
, refreshed, and will soon have both children in summer activities, I’m ready to dive back into my WIP. I have the feeling that my progress will be greatly enhanced by having left both my comfort zone and my muses behind for a little while. What about you? Have any of you had a big boost of creativity after going on a grand adventure? Dallas
All but one photo in this post were taken by Sasha Bullock, my nine-year-old, who was presented with her first digital camera upon arrival in
and quickly developed a love of photography. Rome