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Jamaica CarnivalLast 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.