The “Do Not Disturb” Sign

TW: Financial privilege.

Current status: sitting in a luxury hotel in Boston, sort of not sober. It’s quiet. All I can hear is

the hum of the AC. My view is the harbor. I can see the Hood milk jug in front of the Children’s Museum Hood milk jug from my room, if you’re familiar with the Seaport area of Boston.

Did I mention it’s quiet?

When I checked in, the kind gentleman asked for the purpose of my stay. “My husband is out of town with my toddler, and I needed to get away.” He nodded and said, “well, we’re glad you’re here.” Me, too, kind sir.

So here I am, on the 11 th floor. Highest floor, twinkling city lights. A few free glasses of wine in the bistro later, I’m waiting on dessert from room service. A bath and a glass of champagne await me.

I text Dana, “this is my fantasy. I’m living a fucking fantasy.” How sad, in some ways, that 48 hours of being alone, in the quiet, is a fantasy. I think it just goes to show you how burnt out I have been. Not just from the global pandemic and the struggles of the last year, of the ongoing willful ignorance of how to end the pandemic, but basically since I’ve graduated from college. I’ve been on a hard grind. Two master’s degrees, my doctorate, several cross country moves, a tough pregnancy and having a baby, the tenure grind… I think it’s all just caught up to me. I have started to try to articulate to my husband my need for rest. Not the “oh, we’ll be gone all during the day” kind of rest (I just do laundry and clean – anyone else?). Real, alone time rest. No responsibilities, rest.

I finally said, “I need to get away, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll end up packing my bags and

leaving for longer.” So, I did it. I got away.

Yeah, the guilt is there. The “this should be going in your kid’s college fund or debt or what about the calories or you boarded your 9-year-old dog for the second time ever in his life.” The voice is quiet, but it’s there. I don’t know if it can be silenced completely.

Shhhh. We will try to quiet it, though.

We deserve to allow ourselves the indulgence of care and rest. We don’t have to “earn” real rest. We literally need to rest, to allow our bodies to repair, our minds to seek new ways of thinking. Creativity is not born out of pressure. Good parenting is not born out of exhaustion and thin patience. You can’t cultivate a loving partnership with your significant other if you want to rip their throat out when they happen to be in the kitchen at the same time as you (just me?). We have constructed all sorts of reasons not to allow ourselves the sweet reward of indulgence. Our partners need to work to be on board with this, too. We also need to be OK with working in periodic rest periods. Not every break needs to be a luxury hotel on the

waterfront, but learning to listen to the needs of your body takes time, skill, and an ability to

quiet down the socially constructed rules that limit our rest to the point of burn out. Your break doesn’t have to be expensive – but it does have to be fulfilling for you.

Back to my hotel stay…

Ray, the gentleman from room service drops off my dessert. He says, “It’s so quiet in here!”

Me, “That’s all I wanted... my husband is taking my daughter to visit her grandparents, and I’m just here for the quiet.”

“You should put up the ‘do not disturb sign.’ Not that anyone would bother you… but you

should put it up.”

Put up the do not disturb, sign, indeed. Thanks for the advice, Ray. Now I’m telling you – find away to put up the “do not disturb sign.” You’ll be a better person for it.