Guilty Pleasures

Here I sit in a laundromat in Southwest Harbor, Maine, waiting for the wash cycle to end so that I can transfer my two loads into the dryer. This is our life now:  finding places to do our laundry, catch as catch can, when the underwear supply is getting dangerously low (Charlie) or there aren’t warm enough pants (Arla). I have always welcomed the opportunity to sit in a laundromat and wait for the wash.  One of the indulgences of living in a home equipped with a washer and dryer is that you can simply throw in a load and go about your business, letting the machine do the work while you forget about it. But using a laundromat isn’t bad, other than parting with SO many quarters, which could otherwise be used for skee-ball, or slot machines, or, even (in our situation) a hot shower. Waiting for the laundry forces you to slow down. It is even meditative, the background  music the steady tapping of clothes turning in the dryer, and the lingering aromatherapy of scented dryer sheets with some poetic appellation like ‘summer breeze’.

Being here is soothing. There is something about washing one’s clothing that is a comfort. The result is so satisfying, and it is so right to do this simple task. This laundromat is a clean and cheerful place, with a claw machine in the corner (another alternative use for my precious quarters), free wifi, ample seating, and lots of machines and tables for folding. I am content. There is nothing more that I want from this moment.

Our travels have continued without major mishap since my last post. Our plan for this summer is to stay on the east coast, primarily the northeast, because of reasons to be back “home” for a few days in July, again in August, and finally, when daughter Katie gets married, the first weekend in October. So rather than travel far, we are taking the first months in Casa Blanca easy, adjusting to life in such a small nest, and visiting loved people and places. And so last week we visited my daughter Eva, in Vermont, the time there allowing us to absorb the moist green air and soothing buzz of summer through our pores. The water lilies were in bloom on Half Moon Pond, looking like a Monet painting and feeding my soul. Eva shares my love of nature and so we also visited some of the nature preserves where she takes her amazing photos. While getting my hair cut by my ever-favorite hairdresser, Kim, she discovered a tick making its feast behind my ear – our one misadventure in Vermont, which caused me some anxiety, as well as a prophylactic dose of doxycycline.

A few days later, while we were visiting our good friends Liz and Jerry Sojourner and had walked outdoors to admire their gardens, Charlie found another tick crawling on my pants leg. Had I become a tick magnet? I spent a few days being very paranoid about ticks. I guess there has to be some source of anxiety in life! I have calmed down about ticks, at least for the moment.

Leaving Vermont, we made our way to Northeast Maine, arriving yesterday at a small campsite in Bass Harbor, on what is dubbed the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island. Again, this is a revisiting, to what has become one of my favorite places to return to,  Acadia National Park and its environs. In a way, I am a bad adventurer, because once I find a place that I love, I keep wanting to go back to it again and again, which of course interferes with other new experiences. Some places just call to me, and I have to go back, to feel them around me once more, to refresh their beautiful images still held in my heart since the last visit, and yes, to eat again at a favorite haunt.

Ah, food. Friends have asked us what foods we are missing in our travels, so that they can indulge us when we visit. I am a little embarrassed to admit that we have not been at all deprived. Yes, some meals are simple ones prepared at a campsite. Yet everywhere we go, we also visit fantastic restaurants, or find the best homemade ice cream, or both. This experience is not about physical deprivation. Even though we are living in an abnormally small space (for North Americans), we also have all the space in the world. We do not have to worry about our next meal, or about money. We are physically comfortable, in good health,  for all intents and purposes, living the good life.

Acadia

Acadia

If anything, I am troubled by how well off we are! It is just the luck of the draw. We haven’t joined the peace corps. We are doing with less, but by choice. I ask myself if it is wrong to do this rather than doing something to help the world. These are the questions that have been flitting through my mind over the last few days, percolating. I have lots of time to think.

One problem is that I am not reading enough, and not being creative. Oh, I’ve brought along books, and paints, and knitting. We are moving around so much and seeing so much, doing more than being. It’s all right for now, as this is more like a prolonged summer vacation. But I worry about next year, when our plan is to travel far, around the perimeter of the United States and then some. Will we be ‘doing’ so much that just ‘being’ will be suspended until we settle somewhere? Is a nomadic lifestyle not conducive to deeper thought and accomplishments? Are we just skimming the surface? That question lies at the crux of my unrest. Perhaps moving from place to place is not fertile soil for creativity.

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2 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures

  1. Hi Arla, Have been following your journey and I’ve enjoyed your writing so much that I have been sharing your blog with my husband, who loves not only your prose but also your adventures. Keep doing what you’re doing – your musings give me food for thought and your willingness to undertake this year-long trip is truly inspiring. Not everyone can have this opportunity and I am glad you have it and are sharing it with us. You know you have a home with Jersey Sound. We still rehearse in the same place and would love for you to drop by any Wednesday whenever you are around. Rose

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  2. I think we all get to a point in life where we can live with less. To me you are being productive . Sharing with us all even a washing moment. I to enjoy doing wash in a laudramat. I guess it’s down time from all the stress of life but like you said a task completed .
    We all can help the world a little everyday . I was so up set the other day at the news we could circle the world 3x with the amount of plastic bottles we use of just water. What about all the other drinks. I will try to push for less plastic and recycle more. Enough preaching.
    Enjoy it ALL.
    Sharon

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