I don’t usually like the word “bored.” To me it indicates a total lack of creativity; how, in this day and age, could one be bored? There is always SO much to do, and when you run out of fun things to do, there is always the Chore List. Weren’t you going to assemble that binder of recipes? Seriously, the guest room closet? Have you not sent off for that rebate on your new dishwasher yet? Don’t you want to deal with the poison ivy popping up in little sprigs in the backyard? And by the way, shouldn’t you be thinking about those seven architecture exams off in the distance? What, are you still just sitting there?
It’s kind of like that in my head sometimes. Which is why, when I had twelve days to plan an unexpected vacation, I picked the deep dark woods of Maine. The average stay in Acadia, they say, is three or four days. I picked seven. My secret goal: to get bored. To stay so long I’d done everything I wanted to do, and not ever feel rushed. To wake up in the morning and have to think long and hard about what I should do next. To settle into a real vacation routine, not just the typical three-day-weekend-trip rush, with a hurried drive on either side, when you have fun but come back more frazzled than when you left.
That lovely scene above was my Thursday: somewhere, in the middle of those deep dark woods, lost in reverie, I looked up and saw ocean peeking through the canopy. It’s been like that all week; this lush, green forest next to these rocky harbors and tides that ebb and flow. Sun’s out; then it rains; then the sun peeks out again. There’s a trail map in my backpack, plus chocolate covered blueberries for keeping me steady mid-hike. The only sound is my own footsteps.
If any part of this vacation had gone differently, it wouldn’t have been as good; wouldn’t have been exactly what I needed. I’m including the rain here, because during those first two or three rainy days I drove the coastline and checked off every must-see on my to-do list. By mid week I had Achieved All My Travel Goals. The rest is just relaxing, and hiking, and chocolate-covered blueberries. Just deciding, minute-by-minute, what I want to do next, because there’s absolutely nothing that has to be done. It’s also the great thing about camping; pitch-black-dark in the Maine woods kind of enforces a 9:00 curfew. I haven’t read this much in ages, but at night I’m snuggled in my sleeping bag in my tiny tent reading book after book until I fall asleep. There’s no point in bounding out of bed at first light, because it’s usually raining when I wake up. All the better for burrowing down in the sleeping bag and snoozing some more.
My biggest problem, yesterday, was wondering whether eating chips and guacamole on a patio in Bar Harbor after my eight-mile hike would ruin my dinner. Guess what? It didn’t.
I drove back to my campsite and stopped to watch these three little skiffs hurrying back to their harbor. I took another little hike down to the seashore as the sun started to set, and thought about what to make for dinner at my campfire. I realized that I have not been this relaxed since before I started graduate school. Six years ago. That is too long, people. I was Day Six of vacation relaxed. No agenda, nothing to accomplish, nothing more complicated to achieve than starting a fire and making dinner.
I sat at my picnic table and started slicing little matchsticks of potato and tiny patient dices of red pepper, because I had plenty of time, and guess what? Someone started playing a fiddle, way off in the distance at another crackling campfire. A bit later, a banjo joined in for awhile, and Seawall Campground was awash in gentle music. Magic.
Today it’s threatening rain again, with an afternoon thunderstorm; my long hike will probably turn into another long coastal drive. Doesn’t matter.
I have no plan. And it’s perfect.