My Second Home

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The van is packed and ready to head up to the lake for another relaxing summer weekend. As we pull up to the sixteen-year-old cobblestone cottage, I anticipate the upcoming weekend of being able to sit back, relax, and forget about all that is going on at home. No alarm clocks, nowhere to be on time, being at the lake is my time to slow down. All weekend I wake up and inhale the strong but surprisingly pleasant stench of seaweed in the musty air and admire the peacefulness and silence of nothing but the birds whistling a morning tune like a tiny yellow pet canary. In the early morning, the lake water is mesmerizing; it is completely still and motionless like a never-ending, giant sheet of glass that someone could simply stroll across. The afternoon is a NASCAR race where the jet skis and speedboats pass by so quickly that “Vrooooom!” is only heard for about a half second.
Hamilton, Indiana, has been a significant part of my life, and I have been going there for almost my entire existence. Shortly following my first birthday, my family started the summer project of remodeling a tiny, old, worn down cottage to transform into a place that would eventually amount to more than we could ever imagine and appreciate. Renovation took the whole summer, which felt like the hottest ever recorded. From dawn until dusk, my grandfather, father, and uncles continued nonstop in the sweating heat, sawing and hammering, while I, on the other hand, waddled around in Pampers climbing to the tops of the dirt piles and sometimes sneaking a few clods of mud in my mouth when Mom wasn’t looking.
As the years passed, the appreciation for the new cottage grew nothing but stronger. It provides innumerable memories from all the golf cart rides such as riding through the “lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!” to the time that my aunt was driving like a mad woman on the golf course and hit a bump just enough to knock off my cousin and me like “Jack and Jill” rolling down the hill. In the afternoons my cousins and I spend hours after hours swimming and splashing, leaping off the dock to see who has the best cannon ball, and beating the heck out of each other to see who can become “king of the raft.” While this was going on, Grandpa took us out one by one on his slick silver jet ski. Every time I held onto the straps of his lifejacket with my fists clenched and white knuckles, holding on for dear life, because I felt that I could easily fly right off the back. Although it was a feeling of nervousness and fear, the wind in my face, hair blowing everywhere, and soaring across the water at fifty miles per hour was such an adrenaline rush.
Years later when the jet ski was traded for a boat, I learned how to water ski. My first experience was comparable to the first time a baby deer learns how to walk, but eventually I did become a pro, if I do say so myself. After a long hard day of fun and play, it is time to settle down back at the cottage where Grandma has another one of her steamy, warm homemade meals waiting for us to devour. After dinner Grandpa gets the campfire burning, and he then tells us stories from when he was a kid. Even though they always start out with the same lines, “When I was your age, we didn’t have . . .” or “Back in the day . . .,” they never get old, and we listen intently together sitting around the cozy campfire surrounded by various cobblestones in our cheap fold-up lawn chairs. Later, being the restless woman she is, Grandma provides us with the ingredients to make s’mores. It is always a goal to see who can roast the perfect golden brown marshmallow. Once they are finished munching on their s’mores, I help my younger cousins wash up from the messy marshmallows that caused their delicate fingers to become white and sticky. As this is going on, there is a karaoke concert occurring on the back porch. To this day, I don’t know if the goal is to see who could be the loudest or the most off key. Some of their greatest hits are “You Are My Sunshine” and “I’ll Fly Away.” As the night lives on, one by one my aunts say, “Good night, Mom. See you in the morning,” and head off to tuck the babies into bed and fall asleep with them. Eventually, there are only a few people left singing or chatting around the campfire. This is when we call it a night and know another day was lived to the fullest.
The lake has helped shape and mold me into the type of person I am today, and it is my place to escape the chaos of the rest of the world and a place that I have been familiar with all my life. Because we all live in different cities far away, the lake is the perfect place for my family to be together all at once. It has allowed us all to grow closer together and provides memories for me that I hold close to my heart, an intangible item that no one can ever take away from me and one I will never take for granted. Sometimes life passes by so fast right before our eyes that it feels like a blur; however, at these times I am fortunate enough to be able to pause and reflect on how wonderful my life has been because of the countless memories made at my second home.





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