Part of my employment requires me to be On Call -- at the ready should something happen. I have to wear a pager and respond to whatever notifications I receive. That little pager is the heaviest four ounces anyone could ever carry. I swapped on-call shifts with a coworker the week prior to July 4th and that week was similar to the several previous on call weeks I've had (one weekend was destroyed by a non-stop 17 hour shift when one of our data center's power outages borked a sensitive network device) in that again, I was paged on a data center failure. These shifts tend to become a bit nerve-wracking but there was an added annoyance in that our group was short-handed besides.
All whining aside, dropping of the pager on Friday, July 3 was one of the most glorious feelings of relief I've felt in years. My friends from Chicago were on their way to visit for the weekend and then there was the promise of a week off, all of it spent in Northern Minnesota. My friends arrived, we delved into the the sights and flavors of Saint Paul (they had never seen it), we drank good beer and wine, we cooked and laughed and argued and had a marvelous time.
Seeing our friends off on Sunday with home made scones (I still can make 'em), we then packed the car and headed up to Cohasset for a short stay with my in-laws in a lake cabin. We played with nieces and nephews, we shared fine meals and cocktails, and generally enjoyed their company.
But I was still anxious. I was still under my obligations to others. I wanted MY vacation to start.
Tuesday, we finally made our escape. Mrs Yam and I headed north to hike, camp, do some 'cacheing and generally be away from phones and noise and, most of all, people. I am a people person -- sort of. I was a waiter and bartender, generally difficult employment for the terminally shy and reclusive, so I can handle crowds. But there are times when I need my quiet time. The goal was to hide from everyone at Franz Jevne State Park. It was as advertised, "secluded and peaceful."
No one was there, save The Intern. The DNR hired a student to live in a trailer there to look after the park and to help with jobs in the area, so he was away most of the time. He was like a roommate that lived with his girlfriend, leaving the place to yourself. We camped in a spot that was next to the sault (where water flows over rocks, a rapids) and the only sound was that set of rapids and the birds. It was precisely what I had hoped it would be.
We set up camp, fixed dinner and an exhausted Mrs. Yam curled up in the tent and dropped off in no time, leaving me with the fireflies, the river and the eternally setting sun. "Don't just do something, sit there!" was my mantra and I stared out at the water, I stared up at the sky, I followed the flies. I emptied my head and rinsed it in the rushing waters of the Rainy River. This is one evening will be one that will stay with me for a long, long time. I was At Peace.
It's funny how you can feel tension leave, the way it slowly, almost imperceptively starts like the sands in an hourglass, only to finally rush away down the bottom, leaving nothing.
I felt the quiet and peace soak into me. I had found A Happy Place.