Sunday, May 8, 2016

Return to Astoria: A second Writers' Retreat

The view from our hotel room

The excited 4-year sequel to our 2012 Retreat has arrived. This year, Albert William and I traveled back to the small coastal city where it all began. In 2012, the purpose of the trip was to isolate ourselves from our lives back in Portland, and to write as much as we possibly could. This year the purpose was to read and critique the finished manuscripts we have recently completed.  It was also a chance to see what’s changed about Astoria, and what’s changed about ourselves. Since the retreat of 2012, I’ve changed jobs, homes, and countries. Albert William has also changed jobs, homes, and countries. In the two-hour drive over we had a chance to catch up on all that before digging deep into our novels at Astoria.

The trip was very successful. I am so pleased with the work we have created, and with the feedback we were able to share with one another. Everything about our lives is different now. And everything about Astoria is different too. Thought it looks the same, it has a different atmosphere to it. When we visited  our beloved Astoria Coffeehouse we sat on the same couches where we began writing in 2012, and were served by the same waitress. She had actually resigned shortly after our visit in 2012, traveled the world on a sailboat for years, and had just came back to resume her old job at the cafe. Apparently our lives are not the only ones coming full circle. But one difference was obvious: the café was packed. When we were there four years ago – in the high season no less – we were the only customers. But on a rainy March weekend in 2016 crowds of people waited outside for their names to be called from a waitlist, and they jealously eyed our seats. The city had been discovered. 

Me at Astoria Coffeehouse

Albert William at Astoria Coffeehouse

I didn’t take many photos this trip, but the ones I took seemed to capture the essence of our return.  Astoria has changed and will change again. We have changed and will change again. This is a way for me to preserve this moment, when we were still unknown authors bumming around cafes and dreaming big dreams. 

View from the balcony

Late night bar hopping

Big dreams...

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