Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Back on the grid

So, vacation was good. We slept in the camper van. We did not have campfires because there is a burn ban all over the area but that was okay partly because it was so hot. We ate very very well. We had ice cream in the afternoon most days, and most days I played the ukulele. The Renaissance Woman and I worked out--all on our own-- the ukulele and guitar chords to "Free Man in Paris". I read four books and started a fifth. The Mermaid Girl was bribed to wash all the day's dishes, twice.

We visited local craftspeople (guided by the helpful roadside "Artisan" signs), like the glassblower who sold hummingbird feeders, and the German (we think) toymaker who used to teach at a Waldorf school in Tel Aviv and who gave out impassioned printed screeds on the importance of children playing with natural materials and using their imaginations.

We didn't wear most of the clothes that we packed, because it was too hot. Actually, for the last several days of the vacation all I wore was, in various combinations, my bathing suit and/or a big pink sarong (which also served at various times as a picnic blanket, a shawl, a towel, and a blanket) and/or an increasingly filthy tie-dyed sundress.

We went to several beaches, one excellent pool with water slide, and one lovely river. We drank cider in the evenings. We met up with one old friend, and her daughter, who is rapidly becoming one of the Mermaid Girl's favorite people, but aside from that it was mostly just the three of us. We took a lot of ferries, to the Sunshine Coast (which I had not realize is actually more like an island because it is only reachable by ferry. Or helicopter, I guess) and Vancouver Island and Denman and Hornby and then Denman again and Vancouver Island again and then Galiano and then Vancouver Island *again*. And then, today, home.

For ten days I didn't look at a computer screen, and barely talked on a cell phone, or any kind of phone for that matter. After the second day my iPod batteries ran down and the setup I'd put together to recharge it didn't work and I went to sleep without any podcasts in my ear. And while we did eat out sometimes, and buy some things, and occasionally looked at a newspaper headline in some little general store where we were buying ice cream or milk or fresh shrimp for dinner, mostly it felt like we were living in our own dream world.

Tonight we drove off the ferry and back to our neighborhood. We stopped for sushi and then went home. We emptied the van's fridge and the cooler and washed all the food that had milk spilled on it, and threw a bunch of things out. RW was inspired to clean out the fridge while we were at it. I waded through screens of unread e-mail and found out that nothing much had happened while I was gone. I checked the physical mail and found my new New Yorker. I checked my podcasts and found that I'd missed a new This American Life episode. I checked Facebook and my friends' blogs and found out what's been up with everyone. MG logged onto Webkinz to register the new stuffed animal she'd bought with her trip money and the dishwashing money. We frantically aired out the hot, stuffy house, and contemplated sleeping in the van one more night, just because it was cooler. Instead, we sat on the porch for a while, enjoying the view and the cool air and the lack of bugs.

Today, when we made our ice cream stop, MG opted for sour candies instead: "We've had ice cream every day," she said wearily. RW and I figured this was a good sign that she was ready for our trip to be over. And, truth be told, we were ready, too. We were happy to see our home, our porch, our neighborhood, happy not to be eating out of a cranky camper-van fridge, happy to have our own spaces and to see our home and our cat again.

But I can't quite believe that I have to get up tomorrow morning and wear clothes and go to work. I can't quite assimilate all the media in front of and around me. I can't bring myself to still the message-blink of the phone by going through all our new messages. Not quite yet, anyway.

I miss hearing the river, and seeing all the trees around us. I miss jumping in the water every day, and packing up our house every couple of days and heading for a new island. I miss being able to focus because there were fewer things to focus on.

I like it here, on the grid, plugged in to everything that's going on near and far. But it can be bumpy, slotting myself back into it.


Blogger liz said...

"Hey you, sass that hoopy elswhere? There's a frood who really knows where her sarong is!"

10:30 AM  
Blogger Arwen said...

Hah, Liz! I had the same thought!

I wonder if you and Ripley/Tate were on Hornby at the same time? They came "back" - to Yaya's house, not ours - on the 29th of July.

They also had a great time but were ready to come home.

Good luck with re-entry. It can be bumpy, but you'll be all home in no time.

12:10 PM  
Blogger susan said...

We had ice cream in the afternoon most days, and most days I played the ukulele. Sounds pretty perfect.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I'd love to hear the two of you doing "Free Man in Paris" on the uke and guitar!

This sounds like a truly idyllic vacation. I'm hoping to take my girls camping next week, and get myself a little peace too.

10:00 AM  
Blogger rachel said...

I'm coming home soon! I'm looking forward to blackberries! And seeing y'all, of course. Especially if you've got BLACKBERRIES.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

You read FOUR books. Wow.

Sounds like the free-est, happiest kind of summer vacation. I had one like that once, packing up our van every couple of days and driving. So dirty, so dusty, so wonderful.

7:41 PM  
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4:30 PM  

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