Yesterday, my husband and I spent the day out at the lake celebrating his grandparents sixtieth anniversary. It was an interesting day for me, as I'm really not much of a lake person. Even as a child, while everyone else was down at the beach or out playing mini golf and riding dirt bikes, my mother just couldn't seem to expel me from the warm sanctum of our trailer into the wilderness. And that's not to say that I dislike the outdoors, or beaches for that matter. I find the wilderness peaceful (although not at the lake where only a few trees separate the crowds from each other) and I love beaches. It's just that the beaches I love are in front of oceans and belong to beautiful resorts sporting cabanas and pools with swim up bars. Not to mention my horror of what I find to be the lake's biggest downfall: the bugs. Since I was a child I've had a deep seated fear and dislike for bugs. Specifically, anything that could fly. Be it wasps, bees, horseflies, spruce bugs or mosquitoes.
In true nerd form, I preferred to stay inside, devouring my way through stacks and stacks of books. There were only two reasons I found suitable enough to venture out for. The first was when my stack of books ran out and I was forced to trek over to the dingy lake book store and pillage its shelves for more. The second was when the sun finally set and everyone gathered around the campfire to swap stories and conversation. Those times were magical for me as a child. More often than not, the conversation would be too engaging for my parents to keep track of the time and I'd sit quietly without notice long past my bedtime. I loved sitting in the flicker of the firelight, listening to the stories, the way they seemed to flow out of everyone like honey. Something about the fire bewitched us all, calling forth epic tales of triumph and failure; and stories so funny and rude they'd almost make you wet your pants.
Yes, I have some very fond memories of the lake, but very few of them actually contain the lake itself. What I remember most are the stories, both the ones I read and the ones I listened to. I'll never be a lake person, I don't think I'll ever truly understand the joy others get from packing up their things and escaping to rustic cabins for the weekend. But I'm still grateful to it. The lake separated me from the usual forms of distractions and let me bury myself in stories. As a writer, that's something I can appreciate.