Get home as fast as I can and hope Dad has eaten and is ready to go. All that is going on in the world is put on hold. It’s time to go water skiing! Run down stairs to get my swimsuit on, run back upstairs to grab my ski. The hardest part of getting ready is getting a fifty-one year old man to move faster. The sun is going down fast. Run to the boat and crank down the lift. The cable whines as the boat is lowered into the water. The lake is a sheet of glass. The boat cuts through the lake like a warm knife through butter. We idle out through the narrows into the big lake. I have been waiting for this moment all day. I put the ski on the teak platform and strap in. I grab the handle and jump into the reflective water. The boat idles away and pulls the rope tight. I yell “Hit it!” the boat takes off. Let the skiing begin. There is no course out today but one isn’t needed. In my head I can see the two gates and six buoys I need to get.
I have always been around the lake. Everywhere I go, a lake seems to be involved. My parents started me swimming and tubing at a young age. When I got a little older, I started kneeboarding and eventually skiing when I was six years old. When I was eight, I learned how to barefoot ski. I had an advantage over my dad and older brother because of the boat we had. The boat we have has a boom on it making it easier to ski at a young age. They didn’t have the luxury of a boom on a boat. By the time I turned twelve I could slalom ski. Now this is my favorite type of skiing. Slalom skiing is skiing on one ski. A slalom is course used for more advanced skiers that want to compete. Skiing is a battle against yourself a long as others.
Lake activities started as a way to hang out with my family, but now I use them as a get away. My life is very busy and chaotic. Trying to balance baseball, football, and basketball all while trying not to file for bankruptcy. All the chaos goes away the second I step in the boat. Nothing calms me more than going on the lake and skiing.
Everyone has a place they use to get away. It may be the woods, grandma's house or maybe a just reading a book: for me, it’s the lake. Stress can build quickly in life. I know a little time on the lake can help me get rid of my problems. I can strike out five times in a baseball game and go ski with my dad afterward and still count it as a good day. I can tell when it’s been too long since the last time I’ve skied. My stress levels are higher than normal, I am on my last nerve more often. As Cach Ladouceur said in When the Game Stands Tall “I got caught up in the streak and it nearly killed me.” This happens to many people. Stepping away from the daily life can reduce stress levels and bring more happiness.
The lake has brought my family closer. There is not a member in my family I don’t share a lake memory with. Many days I don’t see or talk to my dad until we get in the boat. When both of us have skied until we’re exhausted, then we can talk. The lake is motionless during the week, making a great place for a conversation. The two of us sit in the boat talking about what has happened. We try not to talk too loud so our voices don’t echo. I have learned more about my dad from sitting in the boat with him than anything else. The lake has definitely been a great connection between my dad and me.
One last run before the sun goes down. The boat coughs as it pulls away to tighten the rope. I yell “Hit it!” one last time. I’m pulled out of the water. Six more cuts around the buoys laid out in my head. Lay the ski on its side and stack myself against the ski. Cut back and forth as we head into the sunset. Let go of the rope as the boat turns. Climb in and say goodbye to the lake, but not for long.