Scarlet Letters

House of Seven Gables – Hawthorne Homestead (Red)

I’ve been reflecting on my upcoming travels at the end of the month and later in the year (not that there is much of 2021 left.) Part of the reflection is in the planning for me. When we briefly visited Salem in the middle of summer on a whim at a rest stop in western Massachusetts we did not get the true feel of the city. Vowing to go back, it was part of our 2020 travel plans. We were going to Richmond in Feb/March of 2020 and then Salem at 2020 Halloween.

We all know what spring of 2020 brought with it, and while we made it to Galaxycon in VA it was the last trip and just after getting back things fell apart for the world. Our world became small. For me that was going to my office 12 minutes from home and making trips for contact-less groceries or the occasional in store grab and dash, all while wearing masks and looking wearily at everyone else out and about in the early mornings.

House of Seven Gables in the cerulean Autumn Sunshine

It was time away from my family, no contact with most friends, a small gaming group of people we trusted to be in our bubble and the occasional scare of health related concerns. Salem was out for 2020. When we started making plans for 2021 we were still uncertain. Now we are just a few weeks from our adventure and much is still just as uncertain.

Hester Prynne came to mind when I was thinking of this visit, for many reasons. The Scarlet Letter was a book I read in high school. Unlike many of my counterparts I enjoyed the work. In the days of my youth I was convinced I would be a mother but never a wife. I didn’t count on finding a person I could see spending the rest of my days with, but that I did. So now I’m a wife but never a mother. I was fascinated with the scarlet A worn by the heroine of the novel. Adultery was the sin. The punishment was that sin on display for all to see.

But in this world our sins are different and our lives are open and bare for all to see by choice. We willingly put our lives out there but I think we all bear our sins and our letters. We are judged even now and often more harshly. I never expected I could be the woman living a quiet life, allowing the world to judge me without caring.

Quaint Village Home and gardens

Yet that is the woman I am becoming. I care less now about what others think of me. I care less about the fame and fortune of my work, and more about the ability to produce work I am happy with. I care less about society and more about self.

The choices we make are our scarlet letters. The day I walked into the store without a mask, did all of my shopping and only at checkout realizing my mistake was one of shame for me. I’d been so careful and as vaccines started and restrictions eased I felt the moral weight of forgetting my mask.

When I realized I didn’t have it on I recalled the people avoiding me and staring at me and whispering. I thought people were angry that I did self checkout with a full cart instead of just a few items. When I realized I didn’t have the mask I felt exposed. It was an experience that played out in public forum and yet it was over, done, and forgotten by those involved I’m sure. But it stayed with me.

Here we are, planning on a couple of vacations outside our state this year when I still have acquaintances who refuse to go out in public at all because they fear for their lives. There comes a fine line that we all have to decide which side to be on. Do we take risk or proceed with caution? Do we dare travel? Do we never leave home again? I’ve always been an explorer. I’ve longed for seeing life outside my valley and even though I moved back to that same valley, to live and die in these hollowed hills, I long for the sun and sand of the beach, the history and horrors of a village, the embrace of friends and the experience of life.

I think that there are a few quotes I shall leave you with that apply to my current thoughts on the matter of travel and Covid and our choices in life. I shall share my findings in Salem at a later time.

Reflections of Time in Windows

“It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society. The thoughts alone suffice them, without investing itself in the flesh and blood of action.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“…if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom…”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

*Note to my readers* I wrote this prior to the trip but waited until after the trip to post, using the photos from my travels.