Last night, I spent the night at the West Baden Springs Hotel in southern Indiana, my first night far away from home (too far to get back at a moment’s notice) without Elizabeth in almost two years. It was fabulous! A real vacation away, if only for 24 hours. The resort was gorgeous, the food divine, the suite was luxurious – though the bed could have been a touch comfier – and it was a great night away! The property is sprawling and beautiful (West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs resorts are all on the same property) and I didn’t have time to explore but we are already planning on trying to save up to go back next year. It is not a cheap venture but they make the stay and cost worthwhile.
One thing I noticed last night, as I sat and enjoyed a nightcap with my husband in the gorgeous atrium was a feeling of wistfulness. ‘I miss this’, I thought. And what I meant by that was the elegance that I felt. We were all gussied up and it reminded me of the heyday of my larping, back several years ago when we would dress up for games, play in beautiful spaces, and have a wonderful time with friends. I miss those days. In my mind’s eye, I filled the gorgeous, domed atrium with well-dressed and creatively-costumed people having conversations here and there, a combat being run over there, an boon being negotiated at the next table. I missed it. I missed slipping into the skin of a character who wore elegance like the dress that covered my form. I miss those days. I miss the days of ladies gathered together, lacing corsets, pinning hair, tying ribbons, helping with make-up (a friend drew faint scars on my back once), complimenting costuming. It was not just larp, it was theatre, experience, community. And I miss it. I miss the me that I was when I was in it.
There is a line from a poem that I read lately, “Sometimes I Cry” by Annie Reneau, about being a mother and one line was a real gut-punch for me because it voiced a feeling that I often don’t know if I have a right to and so have been rather ashamed of:
“Sometimes I cry because in the process of gaining you, I gave up a version of me, and though I wouldn’t change that even if I could, sometimes I miss me desperately.”
I do. Sometimes I desperately miss the me that I was, the me that I am beneath the other mantles that I wear. And this short vacation allowed me to shed those mantles for a while and just be Mel for a bit. Not Mommy, not Industrious Student (I officially finished my summer grad courses two days ago), just Mel, and I got to take care of my wants and needs for a bit. And it was refreshing.