I had a lot of time to reflect during our vacation, and had an epiphany (or two, or three). It’s amazing how much clarity can come from a digital detox – I highly recommend it. While I had amazing quality time with my husband and children, I also felt compelled to process some deeply emotional issues that I’ve been internalizing for years. Oddly enough, as much peace as I find at the lake, I also find pain….allow me to explain. I spent time every summer from birth until I was thirteen at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, with my extended family. As I was an only child, my Mom (very smartly) planned many family vacations and gatherings so that I would be close with my two cousins. We were very much like siblings – we fought like it, loved like it. I took my first steps holding their hands on the beach there. It was a sacred place for our entire (small) family, and where many of my most beautiful memories were made. I miss Lake Winnipesaukee, and I deeply miss that time of family unity. Much has changed since then, and it causes me a lot of pain at times.
I haven’t been there in twenty-four years (with the exception of a brief visit in 2006). And yet, my memories of it are as vivid as ever. I can still hear the sound of the water gently lapping onto the shore, the wailing of loons (one of the most hauntingly beautiful sounds in the world, in my opinion), and even the wobbly ceiling fan that I was sure would decapitate me every night as I slept. I can still feel the silky wet sand between my toes, smell the horses that were down the road on the walk to get ice cream, and see the storms that would move so quickly across the lake. Every detail about it is cemented into my mind, because it was always a place of peace for me during a time in my life that was ever-changing, challenging, and at times, destructive. I’ll refrain from digging deeper on that subject in this post, but let’s just say my childhood was like a roller coaster – with high highs, and low lows. The lake became an escape for me…a respite from the chaos.
We moved quite a bit for my father’s career (military and beyond), and there were only two places in the world that felt like home to me – my grandparents home, and the lake. One was taken from me physically (when my grandfather passed and his house was sold), and the other metaphorically (I haven’t been invited, and have even been denied a stay, when I
asked begged to visit after Henry and Marie were born). I wanted (and want) so badly to introduce my children to a place I hold so dear. It’s not mine, but it has ownership of my heart, as if it was. I’ve struggled with that greatly – to understand it’s hold on me, and also what “home” means to me. How can latitudes and longitudes carry so much weight? Without getting into complicated family details, I’ve become estranged with my extended family, partly due to the denied access. In fact, it’s quite possibly become tainted for me because of the turmoil…it’s hard to say for sure without visiting.
I discovered Lake Naomi (in the Poconos) thanks to my friend Chanee in 2013, and immediately felt an odd sense of familiarity there. While very different from Lake Winni, there are enough similarities to make me feel comfortable, and (mostly) at ease. This was our fourth year vacationing there (more on that soon), and we’ve made many treasured memories…I’m so grateful for it. It almost fills the void in my heart, and yet sadly, falls short. I feel like it will always be competing with my first love, and it will never quite live up to it. I’m hopeful that someday, the family will come back together. Someday, I might be able to share that important part of my past, with my husband and children. Until then, I will continue to reflect on the possibility of reconciliation—with my past, my family, and most importantly, with myself.