By Therese Deslippe I had been an assistant for about a month and a half when it was house vacation time (pretty sweet gig to have vacation already!)...but I was a little apprehensive. I had been finding my rhythm in the house--falling in step next to the other assistants and core members, learning more about them each day, and getting into the rhythm of the house’s fine-tuned routines. I was worried I would lose all of that progress with vacation, and be thrown into a new situation where I was back to being the person who knew the least. It seems pretty laughable to be nervous about going to the beach, but throwing routine to the wind made me nervous--for myself and the rest of the house.
Nerves and all, we packed up all our necessities: jackets, hats, toy airplanes, coloring books, and lots of water. I learned that I wasn’t alone in struggling to travel light. The ride down to the Oregon Coast was relaxed. We watched the trees above us and talked in detail about our schedule for the day. My car had a lot of fun things planned: coffee shops, shopping, ice cream, and dinner out. People in the other cars had diverse plans: splashing in the water, relaxing in the sand, dipping toes in the waves, and going for walks along the beach, just to name a few. I definitely felt more comfortable knowing that we had a schedule for the day, so we all knew what to expect.
Our first stop in Manzanita was a cute coffee shop called Manzanita News. They featured not only delicious coffee, but lots of art prints, including prints of chickens! Our group thought fondly about our chickens Patty, Lucy, and Charlie...who were probably clucking up a storm in our backyard at that very moment. After that, we went shopping at so many different little beach shops that I lost count. I thought I was a pretty avid shopper, but my group taught me a lesson about shopping stamina. Lessons I never thought I’d learn, like finding a place to sit immediately whenever I enter a store! Hopefully by next year, I’ll be more up to the shopping challenge.
The day sped by, and before I knew it, we were out to dinner--but not in Manzanita like we had planned, but in downtown Portland. We ended up changing our schedule so that we could enjoy a restaurant in Portland that we really wanted to try. I was pretty nervous about a restaurant that served only salad, but I trusted my friends that it would be good...and it was! (Still not a salad lover though). By the end of the day, I was wiped out and laying in bed, reflecting on our day.
It seems to me that L’Arche is anywhere that we are. On vacation, we make our routines and leave plenty of room for spontaneity--just like at home. We move at our own varied paces, doing our own independent thing, yet never straying too far from our friends. We seek out the same pleasures we do at home--hot coffee, sweet treats, big burgers, revving trucks on the street. I noticed that changing the scenery of our everyday life does not hurt our sense of home. Instead, it shows us how our home is so much more than just a comfortable house. It’s our likes, our values, and the people we love.