Jennifer Hillier

Into the groove

Jun 9, 2009 | Uncategorized

As much as I love travelling, I always get hammered when I come home.  It takes me forever to get back into the groove of my routine, and I start to panic when the writing doesn’t come naturally.  Today, for example, I had to read back four chapters of my novel (about forty pages) just to get a feel for my voice again.  Maybe for some writers it never leaves them, but for me, I take a couple of days off and I feel like I’ve lost my rhythm. Imagine two weeks?

And I’m starting to feel confused about where home is, exactly.  I often refer to home as Toronto, my birthplace and the city where I grew up, and where 90% of my family and friends still reside.  But sometimes when I say home I mean Seattle, the place where I actually own a house and where my husband and two cats live.  Which is home?  Can they both be home?

I spent the last ten days driving around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) visiting as many people as I could possibly squeeze in and trying to savour every moment I had with them.  But as the week went on, I found myself getting worn out and missing my own bed.  When Steve and I finally got in late Saturday night, we both smiled at each other in relief – we were home.  Our cats were winding themselves around our legs and everything was wonderfully familiar.  The feel of our hardwood floors under my bare feet, the smell of the drywall, the way the lamps in the living room cast a glow over the whole room, the hum of the refrigerator.  There’s even familiarity in way the water sprays out of the shower head in our bathroom.  This is home.

But so is Toronto.  Toronto is where I laugh the most, and where almost every place has a memory.  I found myself constantly analyzing everything to see what’s changed, and noticing the weirdest things – how the menu at East Side Mario’s is different, how all the Dominions have changed to Metros (these are grocery stores), and how heavy my wallet felt at the end of the week with all those Canadian toonies and loonies.

It’s weird going back and forth.   My mom does it every year – six months in Florida, six months in Toronto.  She must handle it better than I do, because she never mentions the weirdness.  But for me, it’s always weird.  Our twice-yearly visits home are a whirlwind, filled with food and extended family and intense conversations with friends.  To come back to Seattle and be away from all that feels like we moved all over again.   I miss everybody all over again.  And I never know when I’ll see them again.

Goodbyes suck.

And now here I am trying to get back into the routine I set out for myself before we left. It’s like wading knee deep through mud.  Blogging is easy – writing fiction is damned hard.  I dare anybody to disagree.  I can so easily imagine taking too much time away from it and losing my mojo completely.  It scares the shit out of me.

Thankfully, my desk looks exactly how it should.  Dried mangoes to my right?  Check.  Favourite Pottery Barn mug filled with Red Rose tea?  Check.  Lady Gaga on my iPod? Check. Words flowing onto my computer screen like magic?  Uh… no check.  Not yet.  Today’s writing session was nothing short of brutal.

Getting back into the groove will take time.  All I can do is fake it till I make it.