I gave myself the day off to recover from the past 6 day’s 370 miles. It felt great to slow down and stay in one place for a bit. It gave me a chance to catch up on email, laundry and such, with a little left over for strolling the town and checking out the community gallery.
When’s the last time you were in a laundromat? Honestly, before today I can’t remember – probably when I was single and living in “shared housing” situations. But honestly my trip to the laundromat was probably one of the most interesting parts of the day. I’m just sorry I didn’t take my phone because I’d like to share more of the experience. But on second thought – taking photos there probably wouldn’t have felt right.
My Morning Hours at the Laundromat
No one uses a laundromat who doesn’t have too; so it’s a pretty solid way to get, at least a little bit, more in touch with what’s it’s like to not have enough money to have certain choices. Without exception, the people there were friendly and helpful – even sharing their dryer with me when it still had time left on it and their loads were done. But even so I felt pretty “other” there in my Patagonia windbreaker and Marmot pants. More than one mom of a toddler came and went, and one woman even left her car running while she put a load in the wash, even as she brought her baby inside. She said she left it on “because I’m stupid” which hurt to hear – she was just obviously tired, run ragged, and too much going on.
I think part of why the seemingly pedestrian experience of going to the laundromat touched me emotionally was that it brings up powerful memories for me. When my folks split up when I was 5, I moved with my mom into temporary housing and we had to go to the laundromat regularly because we didn’t have a washer or dryer at home. That immediately made us feel “poor” because you’re surrounded by other folks who are poor and many because they’ve made pretty poor choices, or just weren’t that smart, had rotten luck or poor health or… Obviously there are a lot of things that can land you there that are out of your control. I didn’t have to live in that environment long but I could see how, if you did, it could change the way that you think about yourself, and what options are realistically available to you. BTW if you haven’t read J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” yet – it touches on some of these same chords. JD was a lot worse off than I ever was but I was close enough to it, and observed enough other families, that his experience was very familiar to me.
The Local “View” Arts Center
So what do you do in Old Forge after you’ve seen the laundromat? Go to the gallery of course! They have a community building here that doubles as a gallery, and classroom space – it’s quite big actually and must be well funded. They even are LEED certified with enough solar on the roof to probably offset a quarter of their energy use.
So I probably wasn’t supposed to take photos in there but I did anyway so you get to come along. And most of what I took photos there are out of the norm for the gallery. They had tons of watercolor landscapes of mountains and fish and eagles. But these are the ones that caught my eye.
By the way – I’m linking all my photos now to the originals, so just click if you want to see the larger version. For these it’s worth it.
Why the hell would you hang this lovely painting over the top of an electrical access panel, I cannot fathom. And somebody snatched it up for $275! Sheesh i love this painting and it’s worth a lot more I think.
And this wonderful quilt – reminded me of my sister Synda who was a quilter and would have loved to see this.
Around Old Forge
And a few other random shots from my stroll around town.
I wrapped up the day with a trip back to the arts center where they had a yoga class that I dropped in on. Babe, have I told you lately what a genius you are? Megan told me I should seek out yoga across the county as I go and I tried it. What do you know but the teacher is quite good (hi Carla) and even gives us some stretches geared for me and “if I was biking across the country I’d do this one every day”. Coach Matt you’d approve – she taught me how to use my own bones for a roller since I didn’t bring one along.
Tomorrow my buddy Adam joins me for the ride. I hope the forecast is as wrong as its been so far. Otherwise we get pretty wet tomorrow. We’ll see…