Lake Houses

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

A few weeks ago, the Missus and I were invited to a friend’s lake house. We ate chicken from the grill, had wine, and made enough jokes to last the evening’s conversation. It was nice to have that moment of stretching out, being social, and really appreciating the environment.

Growing up, I always wanted to own a lake house. The idea of waking up and seeing a large body of water just outside the windows held a certain appeal. Back in the 1990s, my childhood friend’s family would sometimes invite me with them for a long weekend in Tool. It was a time just before internet and definitely before cell phones were mainstream, leading to a sense of stepping away and disconnecting to “regular” life. No, young readers, we did not travel there by horse and cart.

Sometimes, we’d go out on the boat to go ‘tubing on the lake. I remember the thrill of hanging on for dear life until I’d eventually let go and cartwheel across the water. Other times, I’d hang out on the shore for some sun, listening to whatever music was on the radio. Mostly pop music from KISS FM, sometimes country. I wasn’t really a “country music” person back then. I laugh now at the irony of that statement, considering where I ended up as part of my entertainment career.

There was one time where the parents let a group of us guys go up to the lake house by ourselves. All things considered, we were pretty well behaved, but I remembered the thrill of one of those first real moments of independence. We had a whole house to ourselves, and we were in charge. We ate well, had a few drinks, and mostly just hung out, talking about relationships (or lack of), our interests, and what we were going to do in the future when we were finally out of school.

It was one of our last summers before college, one of those last times where we would be able to enjoy the entire break without careers or full-time responsibilities. Everyone looks forward to growing up and becoming an adult, thinking this the moment is where you’ll have a greater sense of freedom. Chalk it up to youth or inexperience, but sometimes you don’t always see what’s right in front of you.

I’ve always enjoyed being part of a group, but I’m also fiercely independent. I remember waking up early by myself before my friends, looking out those big windows to the water’s horizons, and trying to picture what my future would be. I didn’t call it, of course. Not even a quarter of it. No one can see 30 years ahead (though if you can, let’s discuss some stocks, business investments, and lottery numbers).

It was also the last time I’d go to that lake house. We graduated, grew up, and led our own lives. I moved away for 20 years, then returned home.

The feeling came back at my friend’s lake house. I post-humorously noted to myself there’s no longer a “forbidden thrill” of having a drink in the setting, it just is. As the Missus and my friends were having a conversation on the patio, I excused myself for a moment, and walked out to the boat dock.

I could hear the wooden “thunk” under my shoes as I walked out to the edge of the water, and the soft lapping of the waves against the pier. I stared out at a new and different horizon and perspective of water, in some ways still trying to figure out what the future will hold. Less youthful, more experienced. Sometimes the days ahead feel less optimistic, other times I feel content with what got me this far.

While I think I would have enjoyed living on a lake in my youth, my independent streak would have likely gotten the better of me. For now, I used the moment to remind myself to see the things in front of me. With that, I returned to my circle of friends on the patio, an appreciation of the “What is.”

My column coincides the day after the Class of 2021 had their graduation ceremony. There’s a sense of relief in seeing traditions restore and things going back to what we’ve always known as “normal.” I hadn’t forgotten the Class of 2020. While they lacked the ceremonial “pomp and circumstance,” they’re now a year into establishing their own lives. I hope it’s worked well so far, as they start to see where their futures will take them.

Hopefully most had a “lake house moment” of their own to help guide them there.

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Categories: Opinion