Last night’s rain and more today, have turned the athletic field into a mud bath. No matter how big or gentle our steps, mud covers our shoes and flips up onto the back of our legs. Also, our gear was unloaded prior to the last shower so everything is wet, including my sheet and blanket. My tent mate and I ask for any extra towels and they become our bedding.
Tonight’s dinner is on our own. Buses are available to take us into town. I indulge in a massage at the area set up at the edge of the tents. It is not enclosed, but careful maneuvering of sheets and towels allows for disrobing. My physical body is screaming for some kind of release, and finds it here through the skillful hands that manipulate muscles to soften the hard work of the day. I thought my legs would be the primary focus, but my back and shoulders require extensive work to relax towards their ‘normal’ state—which is a state of tension even within regular day-to-day activities. My hour ends before I am ready to say goodbye to the relief the kneading is just beginning to offer, but there are others waiting. Redressing within sheets held for privacy is harder than undressing. A quick shower in the gym and I am ready to join my tent mate and car mate for the trip into town. I am not sure but I think they waited for me. Really?? We are some of the last to head out.
The town of Seneca Falls is basically closed. Supposedly this town served as the model for the infamous Bedford Falls from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart. There is even a museum related to the movie in town, but it is closed by now. The favored restaurant is packed and we need to wait over an hour to be seated. But the bar is accommodating with rapid responses to drink orders. The boisterous, cheerful crowd almost makes me feel celebratory! We talk with another acquaintance of my two companions, a face I have seen but never exchanged words with. I am introduced, and he announces: “So, this is serious Sue I’ve heard about.” My immediate response is to take offense inwardly, wishing my image was one of a more carefree and fun nature, feeling betrayed by the only two people I have had any significant contact with on the trip. But I quickly realize that this trip is serious business for me, and that is exactly how I have responded every step of the way. What initially felt like an insult shifts to become more of a reminder, a confirmation, that this trip is much more than an exercise in my physical ability to complete the miles. I try hard through the rest of the evening to present a more relaxed response to everything, letting down my guard just a little. But I feel like an imposter and am sure they can see the effort it requires to move away from my serious focus. Play has never been a valued pastime in my life. Goals and hard work are solid players in the arena of getting ahead and making ends meet. Maybe this is why Ron’s ability to make me laugh has always been so attractive. Sometimes I resist the urge to laugh at one of his playful responses. I wonder, do I resist because I don’t want to give him the satisfaction or because I don’t think I deserve the break from the more serious side of life?
Seneca Falls is most well known as the birthplace of Woman’s Rights. The small museum on its history is closed, but a tourist focused shop filled with all kinds of memorabilia is open. We go there after we eat. It is already dark and late, and we quickly look at all the merchandise, from socks to signs to shirts-both serious and humorous. I am attracted to the humorous cards and purchase a couple with the excuse that some friends will appreciate them, but also buy duplicates for myself.
We need to rush to catch what someone just informed us is the last bus back to our campsite, as it starts to rain once again. We make our way through the sucking mud, barefoot to keep our shoes clean, taking huge steps and wiping our feet on one of the towels before we enter the tent. It is damp and uncomfortable and my dry bed at home reaches a new level of appreciation. But we are exhausted and crawl under our towels/blankets, thankful for their dry caress.