The Gorilla and I purchased a vacation home in late 2008. It seems so serious. It is not serious. It is wonderful. And the story, in all its detail, is like a miracle to us.
Each summer we move to our southern lake home. There is no better way to describe what this place means to us than the words I wrote just weeks after the purchase in December 2008. I re-read these thoughts every year at the beginning of the season to remind myself of how special this place is, and how much it has meant to our life.
For the past five summers, we have enjoyed several months here and our affection for this home, this town, and these people has only deepened.
But in case you get the wrong idea, let me assure you, this ain't the Hamptons.
I used to believe in fairy tales. I believed in The One person you were sent on this earth to marry. I believed in the magic of the Christmas season and a God who was interested in your every daily doing.
I’m not sure if I can blame this on California or just aging - or a combination of both - but I found myself becoming jaded to the mysteries and pixie dust of this world. A series of small disappointments here, a dull heartache there. I slowly talked myself into being “reasonable.” A gradual erosion of wonders.
Now I can’t say that life didn’t occasionally surprise me or that I turned into a big old Scrooge. I guess in my head I just sort of thought I “grew up.” And then something happened so out of the blue, so unmistakably from a Hand above.
One of the dreams The Gorilla and I shared for our life together was to have a second home, lakeside, that we could escape to from the anxiety and tick of our life in Los Angeles. We both spent our childhoods on lakes, and wanted to recreate that lifestyle for our own family. This dream, naturally, was tied up in everything we wanted for our future. Which meant it was just a vague idea…something to pursue down the road awhile.
But then, suddenly in September, I was on a plane flying to the absolute opposite side of the country to look at a brand new home in a town I’d never heard of, in a state we barely had ties to, all on a tip from Cousin Mike. Everything about it was wrong. The Gorilla and I are not new-home-construction type of people. Our lives are so chaotic right now that I couldn’t imagine taking on this huge project, let alone that it’s very distance rendered it unavailable as a weekend getaway for anyone we knew.
The place was beautiful, I’ll admit. It had a style all its own. But I was wary. I knew that the task of putting this thing together would fall to me, and I just didn’t know how that was all going to work. Heaping that onto an already emotionally full plate, I wasn’t ready.
I called my dad, who was stationed in the state the first few years he was married to my mom. He has always loved it there, and my family grew up vacationing on one of the islands off the coast. But this lake was quite a bit more inland. I just wanted to know if he’d ever even heard of it. “Oh, your mother and I used to ski that lake all the time. Every week in the summer,” he said.
That was my first cock of the head. My parents, in their first year of marriage, made some of their earliest memories on a boat on this lake, while I, in my first year of marriage, stare out at the water puzzled. What are the odds?
For The Gorilla, it was love at first sight. He was as excited as I have ever seen him. I had my doubts – mainly about how often we would actually use such a place – but I didn’t want to be the one to put the brakes on something, in theory, I wanted. That met most of our criteria and, either way, was a sound investment as waterfront property in a down market. Before I knew it we were moving forward with a contract.
That was in October. The plan was to close on the house in early December, and I would spend the week after Thanksgiving furnishing the place. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get excited over the whole thing, I just seemed overwhelmed by it all. It was so far away, and there were other paths I was starting to pursue – at home – that I wanted to continue.
A vacation home? Who do we think we are? My friend Shauna’s words from last winter kept echoing through my head, “Some women just keep redecorating their homes over and over and never get down to doing what they’re meant to.” Not all of life has to be the dilemma I make it, but I did have mixed feelings on the whole venture.
Last week I rolled into this new little town, tired from a family Thanksgiving and with weeks of travel behind me and also looming.
And something happened.
Oh sure, I signed the papers, and bought bath mats and all that. But something else, in between beating a path to Lowes and waking up to lapping water and birds singing, seemed to physically lift me up in this place. This little town, about the size of my hometown, made my soul sing. I can’t ever remember connecting to a place like this. The people I met and talked to and laughed with, I felt like I had just been waiting to arrive there always.
It was so unexpected. It was so…I have to say it…magical. As I pulled out of town for a long drive to Nashville, I felt so sad. I didn’t want to leave. In those few short days I had already linked this place to the same tag in your spirit that says “home.” I desperately want to be back there. I hope that the feeling hasn’t faded when I return.
I needed this and I didn’t even know I needed something. I needed this direct connection from Above – from something so much bigger than myself – to speak it’s big, booming silence to me.
There is no rhyme or reason for when such hope and grace is bestowed. For me, it arrives when I least expect it and never when I’m on my knees with my head in my hands. And this kind of thing, it only happens a handful of times in a lifetime. I can remember the last one so clearly. It was nearly ten years ago. And this time, this week of soul singing, it won’t be forgotten, either.
My magic is back.