A Delightful 'Staycation,' Much as I Hesitate to Admit It
A “neologism” is a new word, perhaps made up by some clever pundit to fill a gap in the dictionary when the world changes, or maybe surfacing from the depths of specialty or subculture into the wider media to become part of the common language. Some are strained attempts to repair past short-sightedness (“sternwoman;”) some are derivatives of long-established terms with legitimate scientific etymology (“locavore;”) some are the humor of the social critic (“citiot;”) and some…well, I guess we're more or less stuck with them (I heartily dislike the word “blog.” I think it sounds ugly and childish. It was not my idea to call these offerings, for example, my “blog.” It is out of my hands.) Ahem.
Anyway, making up new words is arguably defensible; Shakespeare added quite a few to our language. I tend to be wary. Many so new sound
contrived and cutesy; as a general rule, I'll give them few years before I get involved.
Thus, I am reluctant to say, with straight face, how much I enjoyed my “staycation.”
The word still sounds silly to me. Just the same, I happily report having had a lovely time being a Maine tourist for a few days, after a summer of
working seven days a week. Yes, we are about to shift gears.
If taking a “staycation” means enjoying your recreation in your own home town, than no, we couldn't quite manage that. We did have to cross the town line, because anything off this rock is out of town, and any day spent here means we are inevitably on duty. Still, we didn't have to venture far to find indulgent pleasures aplenty. A reserved sum of spending loot in hand (an anniversary gift from family) was earmarked quite particularly for non-essentials…dessert, leaf-peeping gas, back rub, more dessert. Trouble was, I wasn't all that sure I was entitled, being determinedly “too busy to go to the beach” all summer. “
I'm too busy” becomes an identity. Our work ethic brings a sense of pride, and the daftness, the helplessness, the occasional shameless insolence of a few tourists makes us resist identification with that category. We ought to cut ourselves a little slack. Those of us who feed and maintain the visiting masses all summer develop, you might say, an attitude. We assume superiority in fact because we know that 30 bucks is way too much to pay for a plate of seafood and we know how to pronounce Damariscotta and Chesuncook…and Matinicus.
“In Maine,” I have heard, “we take our vacations off-season.” If that means we only get to go fishing during black-fly and mud season, I'll have to reserve judgment.
Those of us who work through the summer in these parts are surrounded by people who, despite the backed-up York tolls, Wiscasset bottleneck, red
tide, seasickness, mosquitoes and each other, manage to thoroughly delight in Maine. The smart ones come in early fall now, too, when only an occasional hurricane interferes with the sunshine (although admittedly the good swimming days might be a bit scarce.) They eat in restaurants which look out over this or that harbor, go for boat rides when the days are warm, the seas are moderate and there is no bait to handle, sleep late and rise to real coffee and bacon on a camp stove, stop along the drive for an ice cream cone or a yard sale, or maybe just burn some of that overpriced gasoline enjoying the scenery.
Sounds pretty good to me.
This year, we were privileged to enjoy a few days off…off-duty, but not far-off. If you think that's an obvious thing for us to do, you'd be wrong. It is tempting to just stay in one's routine. I could very easily be convinced that it is silly, unnecessary, unfrugal, even subtly disloyal to go out to eat in a Camden restaurant (and during the warm season, yet!) to sit upstairs looking out as the moon rises over the schooner masts, slowly working on a draft microbrew, knowing I'll also be ordering that chocolate cake later. We could have been just as well fed eating a sandwich in the truck from a take-out place (and any non-islander could just go home and warm up some leftovers.) It felt a little bit like doing something we weren't supposed to do…sort of a sneaking-under-the-radar, to act like a vacationer during actual vacationer season. I put on my new dress (a cute little rig from the secondhand store, cost me all of five bucks, entirely impractical and not
particularly warm,) and we shamelessly turned our slightly battered vehicle down Bayview Street to take our chances with the parking by the waterfront. We did fine. This was September; we would by no means be here in July or August, but still, many who got out of the other (newer, faster, larger) vehicles were clearly not from around here. I wondered if there was an unwritten rule in the restaurants…best tables reserved for retired doctors from out of state; tradesmen and clamdiggers eat at the bar… Whoa! Snap out of it! My money's the same as theirs! It'll be alright!
We stayed that night in the Country Inn at Camden/Rockport. They accidentally gave us their best room. This was evidently a random benevolent act of the expanding universe. We certainly did not reserve their best room. I have no idea why we got that big room, but I certainly felt like a coddled vacationer. Maybe the desk clerk just felt like giving it to a local; hard to say. I also got a massage…one of my favorite luxuries. I try to believe those massage therapists when they say it's not a big treat, it's health care. We sat in the hot tub. There were chocolate chip cookies on the bedside table. We went to bed early… apparently too early, as there was soon thereafter a knock on the room door.
Paul stuck his head around the door; a member of the hotel staff handed him a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Huh?” I looked at my
husband and he at me. “Did you…?” Nope. I sure didn't. He sure hadn't.
It was even a local wine. (Yes, there is local wine in Knox County.) In the middle of laughing like fools at us getting the "presidential suite
treatment" we wondered if we had somehow been the mistaken beneficiaries of somebody else's wine order, and if some other sweetie perhaps wasn't
receiving some pre-arranged room-service delight. Better check on that. This can't be for us. We're not even supposed to be…
Now STOP that! We are just as entitled to this as is anybody from New Jersey! Snap out of it!
I'll spare you the rest of our meanderings; suffice it to say that any day in Maine, with the sun shining, the food good, no telephone, and nobody irate and in my face, is an elegant day. We ate no restaurant lobsters (they still taste best at home on Matinicus,) but I'll admit it… I had a fun on my staycation. Maybe it's OK to lose the quotation marks and use that too-new word without rolling my eyes.
<I>This one's for Pat, with many thanks. Eva Murray has to stop "rammin' around" on the mainland, and get back to work planting garlic on