I spent the weekend alone in a cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains, because spending a weekend alone in a cabin is the sort of thing I think everyone should do every now and then. I planned the trip originally as a writing retreat but as it grew closer it became increasingly clear that I needed a sleeping retreat more than anything else. I’m not a particularly chill person: I’m neutrotic, prone to anxiety attacks, full of muscular and psychic tension, but I try my best. I can’t say I had a chill time out in the wilderness: relaxation doesn’t come easy to me. I’m the kind of person who feels finally like they’ve settled into calm on the last day of a vacation. Nevertheless, out in the woods, surrounded by the patter of rain, you get glimpses of a different way of living. I’ve lived in a city for seven years now; I had forgotten what true night is like, the kind without even the illumination of stars, where every creak and crack sends a quick shiver up your spine and you feel for a moment like you know deep in your basal memory, the kind that lives in your body and not your mind, trained on millennia of animal instinct without the intervention of electric light, a moment of what it was like for your ancestors huddled up for warmth against the cold and the dark. And then the day breaks and the smell of wet leaves and rotting deadfall illuminates your senses and you listen to the birds awake long before you.