Monday, October 26, 2020

Easy Is Not Simple; Simple Is Not Easy



It's taken quite a bit to adjust to, this living in suburbia thing. It's a very easy life, though easy is not the same as simple

I remember a cocktail party icebreaker game where you went through the keys on your keyring and described them -- "This is the key to my house, I live in a cabin in the mountains; this is the key to my office, I work as a financial planner; this is the key to my car, I drive a Subaru ..." I don't remember exactly how it worked but somehow you also got points for having a kind of key that no one else did, say, to an airplane hangar or the backstage at the local theater; I'd often earn a point for having a copy of the master key to USGS stream gaging stations nationwide. 

When we started cruising I'd been unable to play the key game at all -- I had no keys. No office, no car, no house. We rarely needed to lock the boat, and when we did, it was with a straightforward combination padlock. Simple life. But not easy. Grocery shopping on Caribbean islands might mean a long dusty walk or ride in an open bus crowded with locals (and sometimes chickens as well!) and an equally long walk back with a backpack full of sometimes unfamiliar products, hoping we correctly understood the explanations of how to cook them we received from a friendly stranger. Laundry also took half a day -- and that was if you were lucky enough to arrive at the laundry room when machines were available -- and you were trapped there for the 2 hours or so that a load took to wash and dry and fold; couldn't do anything else while doing the laundry, except maybe chat with others who were also doing their wash. Even morning coffee was a slow-but-relaxing ritual of heating water in the teakettle then pouring it over the grounds to drip. 

Here in suburbia, in an air-conditioned house and with a car parked just steps from our front door, life is much, much easier than cruising by boat. Groceries are selected online from a website, then we drive to the parking lot where a store employee delivers them to our car. Total interactive time: 10 minutes. Laundry, when the washer and dryer is right here in the townhouse? Throw in a load while doing something else. Again, total interactive time: 10 minutes. Coffee? Push a button on the electric machine; interactive time 5 seconds. Hungry? Grab a prepared meal or snack from the wide selection stored in our huge freezer and pop it in the microwave; push another button; interactive time 5 seconds (not counting the amount of time it took to decide!). And on and on ... 

It's easy, but complex with so many specialized appliances. Every time we're back on the boat I find myself longing for the simplicity and clarity and focus I find in that tiny space, so for all the comfort of the rental, I'm looking forward to going back home.

(Oh, and by the way, as for the keychain game, our present life exemplifies the "easy, but not simple." Landlords gave us a keyring with 5 keys just for the property - one for the front doorknob, one for the deadbolt, one for the mailbox, one for the storage shed, one for the pool.) 

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