Last week’s sailing in the western Caribbean seems far removed from the stacks of laundry surrounding me.
It doesn’t seem real that we swam with dolphins four days ago. That only five have passed since we parasailed with friends in Grand Cayman. Or that Jamaica — the land of “no problems… and only situations,” where the header photo was shot six days ago — should feel as fuzzy as any ethereal memory freshly minted by dreams. How is it that the good feeling created by vacations carries over, while the concrete specifics of good times wash away from memory… minutes after they happen?
My husband and I’ve been home less than two days, enough time to work through seven loads of laundry. I didn’t realize we owned so many clothes. But somehow, it’s the clothes that anchor the reality of our dreamy cruise vacation with Texas friends. I remember wearing the red ruffled tank with the shimmery pants on Monday evening. Wednesday saw me in white denim cropped pants and Caribbean blue tank. Thursday, a Hibiscus red cotton skirt with an indigo blue tank.
Each outfit carries a care label, which I follow to a T. Cold water wash. Tumble dry low. Lie flat. Line dry. And though I have no clothes line, the chair backs of my patio table make perfect personal valets to dry wet shirts and pants upon. Yesterday’s warm sunshine and strong winds witnessed four “loads” hanging across those metal chair backs.
Even now, I marvel at how easily this trip fell into place. I didn’t expect invitations extended in late January to two Texas couples to be received so positively…. that they would rearrange planned events in their lives to make it happen… all to join me and help celebrate my husband’s recent retirement. When I thanked them for coming, they said they were honored to be asked. All week long, we took turns saying how wonderful a time we were having together. And how nice it would be if we could make it all happen again.
But here’s the surprise souvenir from my time away: I return to laundry and “real” life knowing that it will be okay if the miracle of traveling with these dear friends never happens again. Because when something is good enough the first time, fine enough to feel like it belongs to the world of dreams rather than waking life, repetition becomes unnecessary. Once becomes enough for a lifetime.
Which makes me wonder whether there are greater lessons to be learned in what happens in everyday life. In those things, like laundry, which require routine repetition.
It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and your wardrobe sounds splendiferous! There’s nothing like the water in that part of the world, that’s for sure. And sharing it all with friends is the best.
Everyone seems to ponder the relationship between “real life” and its repetitions and the one-off experiences that are so different and so special – the ordinary and the extraordinary, if you will. They both have a place in my book. I wouldn’t want a diet of all birthday cake or all oatmeal. 😉
It’s a little ironic that you had to come back home to winter. It’s blowing like crazy here, but isn’t going to get much below 40 tonight. On the other hand, my cousins in KCMO were getting heavy snow at dinnertime, and weren’t happy. I see you have a freeze warning – not so good.
By the way – I have a friend in Purcell who just has gotten herself a new place, with room to do a little gardening. Is there a good book I could get her for Oklahoma gardening? I don’t know even what zone you’re in, and I’d hate to send her something that wouldn’t be useful. She’s just south of Norman, so she’s “in your neighborhood”, gardening-wise.
What crazy weather we’ve had this year. Early last month, about a week before the official planting date for summer annuals had arrived, I was digging up tomato plants that had been in the ground for over a month. The forecast that night was for 29 — too cold for me to think about throwing a blanket over them and covering them with a pot… the treatment they’ve received once a week ever since. Last night, it didn’t dip much below forty, but still… I fear that warm weather, whenever it decides to show up, will come with the flip of a switch. The bonus of all these north versus south systems battling across Oklahoma, of course, is all the lovely rain we’ve received. That an ordinary rain storm can become extraordinary, during times of drought, makes me wonder whether the state of “ordinary” even exists…
You asked about Oklahoma gardening books. My favorite go-to is written by Steve Dobbs — here’s the link to Amazon for more information:
I also refer to the Steve Owens book, that sits underneath Dobb’s book as a recommendation. Your friend will be thrilled with either, I imagine, not just because both are great books, but because it will remind her of you and your friendship.
I know that cruise last week would have been less special without sharing it with good friends..not to forget all those little gifts me and my girlfriends kept passing back and forth… as if we could bottle up our love for one another in some little trinket or keepsake. But the need to display love in something physical is strong for me. So why resist the urge? Thankfully, I’ve no need to…
I’m glad you’ve had a good time with good company on board. And, who’s to say what’s ‘real life’ and what’s not? All the good times are real, and so are the laundry. And, reading Proust is also real … I can’t say I agree with those who think literature, or films, or art, or vacation for that matter, is a form of escape, or, taking a break from real life. They help us live our real life, don’t you think? I’m still plowing through ‘Proust In Love’… some very interesting thoughts there. Looking forward to our discussions in two weeks time. Never mind if you can’t gulp it all down, tiny morsels are more tasty and digestible, esp. when you dip it in tea. 😉
I share your sentiment on how the arts can help us live real life. It was shared by Proust, too. (middle of page 116.)
While on vacation, I read a little from Proust every morning. Ten pages at a time. Any more and I became too dazed by the beauty of his prose. I’ve learned it helps to pick up a different novel, to read both in tandem. Last week it was to a new release, John Kenney’s Truth in Advertising, which I read for a book club I’m in. And, dear Arti, the delicious irony of my running away from Proust is that Kenney, on page 200 of his novel, introduced Proust into his story, with this wonderful Proustian excerpt:
What’s ordinary? What’s extraordinary? What’s ‘real” and what’s not? Death sharpens the image to make all seem one.
Since I’ve returned, I’m slugging along again, still twenty pages from finishing Part One. Don’t know if I’ll post on progress in mid-May…or not. But I’ve decided my new companion read will be The Great Gatsby, since the film will soon be out… and since Fitzgerald was a contemporary of Proust.
Great minds think alike! I just finished rereading The Great Gatsby, yes, it’s a great read to go with Proust. I even think, why can’t Proust write like that… I mean, sure his prose is beautiful, with incisive observations, but, can’t he just shorten his sentences a bit? Part 1 on Combray is ok, since the sceneries and accounts are interesting, but I admit now I’m in Part 2, there are some pages that can frustrate the most genuine intention.
Anyway, the reason for my reread of TGG? Exactly as yours… I’ll be seeing the advance screening of the movie next week. … And I won the ticket too. 😉
It’s been since high school that I’ve held Gatsby on my lap. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, I remember of it.
As for Proust… I had hoped, as I’ve closed in on the end of Combray, that Part 2 would be easier to read, that perhaps a plot would surface from what, so far, has felt more like random reflections of a place and time. Though your comments have not outright denied me this hope, I know that if you’ve experienced frustration…. that it will surely find me, too.
In addition to Gatsby, there is another film that I have long looked forward to viewing that will be released this month, that I mention, since you’re a fan of Terrence Mallick. The unusual title, “To the Wonder,” captures my imagination. It was filmed in Bartlesville, Oklahoma… where I believe Mallick was born… and/or lived as a child. It will be showing at our local art museum next weekend… I suppose it’s not commercial enough to show at one of our local theater chains…
Glad you won a ticket to see Gatsby. I’m thinking that even if the story telling fails to please, that the setting and costumes will be a treat for the eyes.
I love reading your rich words and am snickering at the thoughts of memories of clothes…..hoping each time you wear said clothes in the future it will bring a smile to your face and a precious memory to mind.
I just finished The Great Gatsby in my book club. We will be meeting to view the old movie on Thursday then going together to watch the new….Enjoy!
I’ll so enjoy reading about your life this way!
Love you, my friend!
How good to see you show up here.
Would you believe I’m smiling as I write? Not just about all that lovely cruise wear — who knew I owned so many clothes, enough that five ‘costumes’ and three pairs of shoes never made it out of the closet . But I’m smiling, too, about the wonderful photo Don caught of you and Ken.. on your balcony overlooking the Cozumel dock promenade. I hope to include it in the next post… but even if not, I’ll get a flash drive in the mail to you next week. Don finished formatting them this afternoon.
I can imagine many are re-reading (or have already reread) Gatsby in anticipation of next week’s film release. When you say the old movie, I’m guessing it’s the one starring Robert Redford. Though I don’t mind confessing how it feels more than a little ‘unreal’ to call that an old version … but since it was released when I had just begun college….I suppose it is.
It won’t be just the clothes that will help me remember last week’s cruise. But that’s a subject for another day…. and maybe the next post… if words will come.
Thanks for helping us celebrate our new everyday life on the high seas. By the way, did I tell you that you’re the one that inspired me to purchase that “sparkly” blouse to wear, which if memory serves, I wore Thursday night.
Thought I would go in search of your blog, dear one, and what a nice surprise to see that picture from Jamaica at the top. Wonderful memories taking that picture! I always enjoy reading your writings…..even about laundry, but especially about wonderful trips. Now I will HAVE to read The Great Gatsby again if you two are….I had just planned to see the movie again. Also found your son’s books on Amazon…..so fun to know all you “writing” people! I will enjoy following you. Much love, dear friend!
Hey, friend…. what a pleasure to see you show up here. And good to hear that you swung by Amazon.com to check on Kyle, too. So far, his book sales are steady and even better, he’s hooked on writing; he wrote something like 7000 words last weekend, this on the next installment of the series. Meanwhile, I struggle to find words… and the desire to write them.
I have more to say about that Caribbean vacation we all enjoyed, but I don’t yet know what it is! But the good feeling still carries over to the everyday…and really, even if words continue to evade me, I’m so grateful we were all able to set aside time to celebrate life and friendship.
Here’s the funny thing about that header photo you mentioned: Putting aside all the personal shots that focused on some combination of the six of us…,the Jamaica photos ended up being my surprise favorite. In particular, I liked the photos of the Anglican church, where the revolution began, especially ones taken from down the hill looking up. While I could never single out one special moment over another as a trip highlight — the week was a blur of fun, fun, fun — as far as landscape photos go, Jamaica wins the beauty contest. Isn’t it funny how I said I had no interest in ever returning… where, now, with photos before me, I’m not so sure.
One of the most rewarding things about writing and reading good books is that they help me filter personal experiences with greater distance, and through different perspectives via comments and discussion, which grants me a look at life through a sharper and wider-angled lens then I individually possess on my own. It’s why I’ll never stop writing and reading… even when writing is hard… and even when I can’t decide whether a book read, like The Great Gatsby, was illuminating to life or not.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day… hope it features a plate full of delicious fried shrimp!
Oh it is to me… The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourites and every time I read it, I’d underline more. And it’s certainly an apt reading companion with Swann’s Way. I’ll highlight that in my upcoming Proust read-along wrap up post. After some dragging pages, I came out enjoying it, especially the last part. Hope you’re enjoying Proust. Chat again come May 15… finish or not. 😉
I look forward to reading your Gatsby reflections a la Swann’s Way.
Four days from finishing, I’m still ambivalent about Gatsby — though I very much admired the novel’s bare bones brevity. My son read somewhere that Fitzgerald spent two years editing Gatsby — I respect that level of discipline Fitzgerald brought to his work… maybe that’s part of why it endures so well. Meanwhile, at the other end of the editing spectrum — or should I say non-editing spectrum — resides Proust. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to return to the beginning of a sentence in order to not lose its meaning amidst qualifications and digressions!
I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed Proust after all. For now, for me, it’s in the Gatsby column. My new companion read is Marilynne Robinson’s Home. No reason. Except that I love her writing and her exercise of control over language and story. Maybe this makes Home a balancing act for Swann’s Way.
I’ll post…if I have something more to say about Proust… a few days from now.
Happy Mother’s Day! You must be one proud mom with a writer son. 😉
As a mother of four, you know I’m proud of each and every one. But as for Kyle, yeah, I’m happy he’s tasting the fruit of all his hard work and discipline.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, Arti!
I have Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Do you have it? Would you like to read it with me?
It’s been almost 10 years since I first read Robinson’s first novel and I’ve been thinking about reading it again.
Of course, I’ll have to acquire another copy since I gave away my first to a cozy bookstore that seemed a little like family to me during my Texas years. At the time, I saw it as a nice home for good titles that might better find their way into the right hands for adoption, than if hanging out on my own shelf. I have this tendency to give away things I love to people and places I love. I don’t know why, other than it feels natural to do so.
So, yes. Let’s do it. Let me know your thoughts about when you’d like to begin… I’m flexible.
By the way, having got caught up (finally) in Proust’s story, I set aside Home, after only a few pages in. It will be there, waiting for me, when the time is right.