My Down Time…

last edited on Mon. October 28 2019

Retreat can make rest, reverie, and survival possible, but many people struggle to find, create, or otherwise access it.

In anticipating the opening of Down Time: On the Art of Retreat, an exhibition that takes up retreat as its central theme, we here at the Smart—including to students who have joined forces to curate this exhibition—have seized the opportunity to reflect on what it looks like when we take time and space away from our everyday lives and from the moments that test us the most. What does our “down time” consist of? How can we ensure that we and our communities can find it when they need it?

My down time tastes like…
food that cooks in a clay pot for hours
wheat & honey
takoyaki and milk tea
Sauvignon Blanc
rootbeer floats
a peach
honey crisp apples
a perfectly ripe nectarine, or a ruby red pomegranate plucked straight from the tree and broken open and devoured right then and there
a sweet loaf
honey and lemon
za'atar and zeit zaytoun and hummus and falafel 
farmer's market free samples 
apple cider
spicy chai
the skin of freshly roasted chicken
truffles (the mushrooms and the chocolates)
homemade chex mix
a glass of red wine
five-cheese macaroni with a chocolate chaser
second dinner
perfect summer peaches
homemade pasta
gin and tonics

My down time sounds like…
Brian Eno, “Music for Airports”
flames, echoes, night quiet
sea waves and Anderson Paak
water running into a bathtub
someone’s snoring
my best friend's laughter 
squeaky toys and a yowling puppy
a forest mid-afternoon, with a small stream gurgling towards a waterfall in the distance, and birds chirping.
laughter and crinkling paper 
Frank Ocean
all the laughter…and Sade
nostalgic games from my childhood
the quiet stillness after heavy snowfall
rustling leaves outside my window
a thunderstorm
baby giggles
Lake Michigan waves
‘90s slow R&B
Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire
kitten purring
crickets chirping in the evening
Derrick Carter / Queen!
the beach (birds, waves, wind)

My down time smells like…
lavender bath salts
wet stone, smoke, melting wax
wood sage & sea salt
peppermint tea
faint cologne
freshly baked bread 
a dewy morning
fresh coconut and watermelon
the beach
walking into a home with aromatics sweating in the kitchen, where the scent of garlic, ginger, and onion permeates your house and your stomach and your mind.  
peppermint tea.
recently done laundry and dog fur
cinnamon and cardamom and dusty oil pastels and sharpies and citrus-y dust disturbed from its slumber 
coffee and croissants
sea salt on the breeze
a clean new candle
bergamot and tobacco
a cool summer morning
baking cookies
chamomile and eucalyptus
lavender and rosewater
jerk chicken on a barbecue
fresh cut grass
the gym
sourdough bread from the oven

My down time feels like…
rest after exercise
penance & cold air
sore muscles after a race
fluffy blanket
a massage
warmth and jersey material
finishing a cross-country race
a long nap
diving into a bed with just-changed clean sheets, tucked in with hospital corners, and freshly-shaved legs.  
a well-loved Target comforter
sweaty, stretchy slippery silks 
a hot shower
a big, heavy blanket (preferably for a nap on my living room couch) 
sleepy daydreams in a pile of blankets
being wrapped in my heavy comforter
cat socks
freshly washed sheets
wrapped in a blanket in a chilly room
a warm bath
sleeping outside under the stars
back porch in the summertime
my bed
a hammock on the beach
the rush of a Costco bargain
flannel pajama pants

My down time looks like…
half-lit, sequestered
a beach house isolated on an island
wherever I am at the time
a movie I’ve been waiting to watch
a night sky filled with stars. 
a world inverted, imploded 
biking on the lakeshore
fresh, thick snow