I grew up in a house that was located across the street from a quiet little non-motorized lake. When my sister and I weren’t at camp, we spent our summer days at the lake, playing with the neighborhood kids or bringing our friends with us.
There was a dock with life guard tower on it and a diving board that had been removed. There was also a low dive that if you went to the very end, you’d end up ankle or face first, depending on whether you jumped or dove, into a massive amount of seaweed.
Generations of swallows built their homes under that dock. Every year the nests would double in number. Swallow parents would dive bomb us when we were playing tag underneath the dock, protecting their young and not realizing we came in peace, and were just trying to get away from the one who was “it”. Yet, every year, they came back to build their nests and yell at us for disturbing their peace.
There was this dock, way out in the middle of the lake. Not that way out was very far. Remember, this is a small lake. But regardless. We would swim to that dock. A personal dare. A challenge on so many levels. It was pretty far, considering the zigzag of a path you had to take. You had to navigate your way through tall seaweed that tickled your legs and arms as you kicked and stroked your way towards your goal. There was also the fish. Those slimy fish that had no fear of humans and would nibble at your toes if you remained still for a moment. We had to channel our inner brave side to reach that dock. And not think about the unknown that lurked underneath our bodies that skimmed the top layer of the water.
As we got older, our days were spent on a towel, camped out on the sand. Only dragging ourselves to the water to de-sand and de-sweat. Trying to achieve that golden tan and sun-kissed blond streaks for the bar crawling we’d partake in that night. Soaking up the sun with friends, putting cigarettes out in the sand and burying the butts. Hoping my parents didn’t suddenly appear in mid-exhale.
So many memories of this lake.
My teenage years.
Sneaking in, late night, to make out with my boyfriend of the summer under the tree or on the dock.
Bringing friends there with California Coolers and sitting around, giggling and drinking.
My parents still live in that house.
We still go to that lake.
When my two older ones were babies, I took them to the lake all the time. They toddled around in the sand and shoreline. Grabbing shovels that were gently bobbing in the small ripples. Grabbing huge handfuls of seaweed that had reached the shore. Giggling at the minnows as they tried to catch them, unsuccessfully, in buckets.
Now that all the kids are older, and our house has a pool, we don’t go to the lake so often anymore. We talk about it. We remember times. We talk about inviting friends and having a BBQ by the lake. But, we never get around to it.
Yesterday, we finally went.
I took my kids. We met a couple of my friends and their kids over there.
And they had the best time swimming to that dock which no longer has any form of diving board due to the lake getting shallower over the years.
They wanted to swim out to the far dock, but there was a service there who was essentially mowing the seaweed.
They played with the neighborhood children that were there.
And we, the moms, sat on a towel, sweating in the sun. Watching our children with eagle eyes. Taking head counts.
No one was secretly smoking.
We did talk about getting Mikes Hard Lemonade. But we’ll do that next time.
Spending the whole day at the lake.
All the kids.
Enjoying a peaceful day.
The sun. The sand.
Trying to, unsuccessfully, catch fish.
Laughing at the swallows.
Just like old times.
A day at the lake.