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You spend the school year feeding your tribe. It seems like all you do is pack lunches and make dinners.

But that’s not entirely true—you also spend a great deal of time in the car and quizzing math facts and helping create a whale-on-stilts costume. You attend concerts and track meets and recitals and musicals and field trips.

And you write. You revise. You revise some more. You revise until you’re sick of revising.

By the end of the year, you are drained. Bone-dry drained. Nothing left drained. Drain-o drained.

You need to feed your soul.

IMG_1805So you go to Istanbul. You see the Hagia Sophia. You see the Blue Mosque. You visit a Turkish bath. You eat something called “The Imam Fainted.” You climb a mountain and visit a monastery. You bike around an island.

IMG_3443You go to Greece. You see the Parthenon. You visit the Delphic Oracle. You climb to more monasteries. You swim in the Aegean sea.

You loved Istanbul and you loved Greece, but you come home and still feel drained. Drained and jet-lagged.

IMG_4379So you go to Vermont to visit your alma mater. You hug dozens of people. You meet new friends. You give a reading. You talk shop. You go to lectures.

You love VCFA and you love your writer buddies, but you come home and still feel drained. Drained with a whole lotta laundry to do.

So you go to your in-law’s camp, a place with no wifi, no cell phone reception, no television, no cable. You canoe, you hike through the woods, you build bonfires and create the consummate s’more.

But when you come home, guess what? You still feel drained. But at least you have hot water again.

You do laundry and repack, this time for a yearly tradition: WTHS, the What the H(eck) Sabbatical.

Karen, Beth, Heather, Ginger, Frauke, Joy, Lisa

Karen, Beth, Heather, Ginger, Frauke, Joy, Lisa

There are occasions when you need an unknown something, and no one but a sister will do. Though you only have one biological sister, you were lucky enough to pick up six more along the way, sisters with a varied and long history joined by parentage, schooling, marriage, and friendship.

And once a year, you check in.


Lisa, Heather, Joy, Karen, Beth, Frauke, Ginger

You see your sisters on the second weekend of August, the weekend of WTHS. It is a weekend sans husband and children in which the answer to any question is “What the h(eck)!” It is a weekend in which you doff sense, and don sensibility.

“Do I want ice cream for breakfast?” What the h(eck)!

“Should I buy these shoes?” What the h(eck)!

“One dessert or two?” What the h(eck)!

glasses WTHS

Heather, Joy, Ginger, Frauke, Karen

This weekend is no span of simple gluttony; you also wear tiaras. You carry wands. You laugh. You laugh some more. You laugh until you cry. In fact, one of you is an academically trained humor specialist and comedian. You laugh until it becomes an aerobic activity, and you can justify that ice cream for breakfast.

You return home and you no longer feel drained. And it doesn’t matter how much laundry you have to do, because you have a tiara and a magic wand, and maybe it’ll just get done all by itself.

liberty bell photo bomb

Beth photobombing Ginger at the Liberty Bell

Everyone should belong to such a group. It’s good for the soul.

And the funny bone.