October 05, 2010

Squam Retreat

From the moment signing up for Squam Art Workshops until actually arriving there, I had no idea what I was doing nor where I was going.  I knew nobody except for a person I was sharing a ride from the airport.  I did not know where I would be staying, nor how many people would be there.  But I expected that I was going to experience something great.

Everyone came with some expectation.  And every single person I met at the camp had an experience beyond their imagination.  The 5 days were that wonderful.
People, energy, creativity, crisp cold air, reflections of sunlight on the lake, food, fireplace in the evening, smell of smoke and pine needles, endless chatters, tears, laughter.  Above all, amazing new friends.

The moment my shuttle-mate and I arrived at the site, Elizabeth and Jen and all the other people welcomed us wholeheartedly.  Lily, my shuttle buddy, was truly sweet and took extra care that I settled in cozily.  My cabin mates, Caryn and Shelly, were both so wonderful and we became great friends.

When you grow older and when all your friends got married, and especially if you work for a very conservative financial institution, you don't get enough doze of female companionship.  Come to think of it, for most of my life since highschool, I had been in predominantly masculine environments.  I didn't know until now that being surrounded by all-energetic and creative female souls is that refreshing and can restore your soul.

Our cabin was small, cozy and old.  There were paintings on the wall, jigsaw puzzles, and diaries, left by people who stayed there before us.  I spent one evening reading the diary entries in front of the fireplace.  Because my roommate was from New Hampshire, she brought a whole lot of things from her home, including this beautiful bouquet from her garden.

Most of the cabins are facing the lake.  There is a small pier in front of each cabin.  In the evening, people, one by one, come down to the lakeside, and spent truly relaxing and tranquil time, often with a drink in hand, sharing their life stories in calm voice.

Each one of us had a story or two or a lot more.  I don't talk about them to anyone.  Sometimes I do, but only a small and different bit to each person.  It is strange but here, in the cabins, by the lake, it felt right to talk about ourselves.  Really about "us".  We were allowed to be as self-indulgent as we liked.  It felt just right.  

Apart from the mental restoration, all of us were well-fed (with someone else cooking for us 3 times a day!), better exercised (had to walk 10 min. one way to get to the cafeteria where we can eat), our creativity thoroughly kindled, and we were satisfied by chatting so much from the moment we woke up till the moment we fell asleep.

Many people wrote and said that you cannot explain the Squam experience to anyone who wasn't there.  I fully agree.  So we just have to go back there to talk about it.  Now I am debating myself whether I should attend next June session, or possibly September one to meet my friends again.

On the last note, I was the only one of the 3 Asian-looking people, and I was the one who came the furthest way.  Everyone treated me so kindly.  Thank you, all of you, I enjoyed the every moment of your company.


Caryn Lynn said...

I am so glad that I found your blog through Shelly's. It will be a wonderful way to keep in touch, I hope that you are able to return and attend Squam again. Please keep in mind my offer to stay at my home for a while before and afterwards to make the journey easier.

Meri said...

Caryn, Thank you for your offer, and I would love to come stay with you :)
I also found your blog through Shelly's. I am grateful that now it's so easy to stay connected with friends through blogs and SNS!

Anonymous said...

It was so amazing to meet you Meri (not to mention sharing Mary's back seat with our Flora canvasses - makes me laugh again to think of it). I look forward to learning more about your life in Tokyo through your blog and I so hope our path's cross again!!


Meri said...

Hi Kelly,
Thank you for visiting my blog! I found yours too. I guessed you had a lot going on in your head, and I was right :)
I am also so glad to have met you. Yes, it was such a funny ride, which I had thought impossible until we actually did it! I felt blessed to be with all three of you. Although I was a foreigner and much younger, I enjoyed your company very much.
OK, I need to write you an email!

lau said...

what a beautiful experience it must have been !!! Thank you for making us share some part of it on your blog :-) (the last picture looks especially magical)

Meri said...

Lau,You're welcome! I would recommend SAW to anyone :)

Lily said...

Hi Meri,

Not sure how I missed your post. It was so great to meet you and I'm glad that you were my first connection before we even got to Squam! It made it seem like it would all be okay once we found each other. Hopefully we'll meet again there someday.

Big hug,

Meri said...

Lily, thank you for your comment! It feels Squam was more about who we met than what we did there.
Yes, hope to see you there again.

Juliette Crane said...

lovely photos! you've so inspired me to go to squam next year :)


Meri said...

Juliette, yes, I highly recommend it! I am already thinking about next year :)