Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Anticipation and Melancholy

See that? Right there? Those are two of my favorite people relaxing in one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. My family has owned this little slice of happy for 110 years. Yes, one hundred ten years. It may not be easy on the eyes, but I assure you, it's easy on the spirit.

Living 1000 miles away from this little beauty we call "the cottage," definitely puts a limit on how often we get there. Once a year to be exact. Being there means shutting down literally and figuratively. No TV, no internet, spotty cell service. Until a few years ago, there was no shower and no phone. The lack of current technology means a turning to others, creating a space where conversations ebb and flow with the shadows cast by the sun on the ferns. It means using your head to make sure there's enough water to do dishes and get the kids' grimy feet clean. It means not dumping food in the sink because there's no disposal. It means a calmer life, for a few days. Rising with the birds and sun, resting our heads in the heat of the afternoon, hitting the hay with the moon.

We all, my siblings and I, try yearly to make the trek to the cottage for the fourth of July, it being our mother's birthday. Knowing I get to see my brother and sister and all of our nieces and nephews fills me with tangible anticipation. In my mind, I play out our visit, the arrivals, the stories, the swimming, the food. I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, completely wound up waiting for the presents to arrive. When everyone has finally assembled, it is largely as I had envisioned. We laugh, and cook, swim and canoe, drink cold beer, sit on the porch, tell stories, remember, catch up, look ahead. This trip is one big gift just for me to savor my family.

And then it's over, just as Christmas Eve passes to Christmas Day which passes to the ho hum day after Christmas of bloat of indulgence and crankiness from all that togetherness. I found myself in that doldrum yesterday as we drove out of the gravel drive, casting one last furtive glance at Sugar Lake, the place that defines my past as much as the house where I grew up. Leaving it, leaving the family, brought my anticipation to a screeching halt and left a gaping hole of sad.

I know I'll be back. I know I'll see my family again. There is something reassuring about having something to look forward to. It makes the minutiae seem to click by faster, to make it more meaningful or worthwhile. And there is also something about a return to "real" life that resonates, too. I wouldn't want to stay with my siblings at the cottage forever. Going home, my home, with my children, and our daily responsibilities, creates the possibility of something new to anticipate. What I'm trying to say is that we need the flow of time; we need to look forward, and we need to grasp our present with joy and purpose.

But, I still miss my brother, my sister and my nieces and nephews. Can't wait til next year.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, friend, I do believe anticipation is bound to be followed by melancholy. Bittersweet, isn't it? I have always been one to love the anticipation of something almost more than I love the experience itself. Playing it all out in my head can be wonderful, but I need to work at keeping my expectations lower so I can throw myself more fully into the moment when I'm in it. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time, and glad you're able to step back from it enough to appreciate the flow of time.