1. The policy on these retreats is that the guests do no housework type stuff. Like, if you get up to clear your plate, you're told, "Sit down, we've got it."
2. When I got there, I walked into a conversation about words and phrases we'd misunderstood, having worked them out from the context of books rather than in real life. Things like "nonplussed" and "butter wouldn't melt in her mouth." Which reminds me, I keep trying to figure out what a "shit-eating grin" is. Is that, like grossed out, which I would be if I had to eat shit? Or is it sycophantic, like you're gobbling up what you know is BS? Or what? This is what I consider quality conversation.
3. Bottomless coffee and bottomless wine. I have a sweatshirt that says "Coffee Till Cocktails" and Beth, the organizer, wore one that said "Coffee Days" on the front and "Whiskey Nights" on the back. But we mostly drank wine. And coffee.
4. The books we read and discussed included one fantasy, one contemporary, and one memoir. I'd read one of them before (The Glass Castle) but hadn't even heard of the other two (The Steel Seraglio and This is Where I Leave You). I loved the variety.
5. I've lived in Oregon most of my life, and have spent many a weekend at the coast. It is very rare for me to get to stay in beachfront property. The expense just doesn't make sense. So to spend four days in a house where not just the sound, but the sight of the waves is omnipresent feels like a luxury, while also feeling like some basic need is being met.
6. Our book discussions were SO. MUCH. FUN. I am just an English class nerd at heart, and I loved being asked interesting questions about the book, and the way we'd flip through our copies to find quotes that supported our thinking. The discussion leader was great, and my fellow book lovers had excellent responses and questions. Time flew.
8. There were about ten of us there. Some had little kids, some had big kids, some had grown kids, some had no kids. Most of the women who had kids had at least one kid by adoption. There are specific struggles to raising kids who have lost their first family, compounded by the various physical, intellectual, and emotional barriers our different kids also deal with. A lot of this is really hard to talk about with people who haven't walked the same path. It is an enormous relief to talk about with people who get it.
9. A book lovers' group, almost by definition, is going to include many introverts. So if I snuck off for a few hours to be alone, I didn't worry that anyone would feel offended, or think I was unhappy, or anything like that. There was an ebb and flow to our social interactions that felt really comfortable, no matter how chatty or quiet I felt like being at any given moment.
(Also, you should probably read Beth's blog. It is hilarious and serious and quite, quite wonderful.)