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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

Lake Life

Going to Lake George has been ingrained in the fabric of my family's traditions since long before I was born. I have vivid memories of swimming in the sea green lake, trying to catch minnows with my little baby hands, and building sandcastles with my sisters that were so intricate they had moats and aqueducts (I seriously should have been an engineer, if only I wasn't such a simp for Shakespeare!). There was such a calm feeling of coziness at night when I donned oversized sweatshirts, protected by the stars and the constellations.

The lake was always that one place that was untouched by any outside problems. Whether it was when I was going through my middle school ugly phase, feeling left out by friends in high school, or getting ghosted by a boy whose favorite form of communication was bitmojis, traveling to the Lake rewarded me with peace. Fire-pits, gooey marshmallows, lightning strikes across the marina, listening to Billy Joel, catching fireflies, and jumping off of docks. It's always enough to ground my soul right down into the soil of the bay.

I've been having an off time since graduation, not melancholy or sad, just confused about what's next for me. I was incredibly ready to be done with school (barring aside the fact that I would miss my friends), but there was also part of me that knew that the end of college signaled the immediate end of whatever remains of childhood I had been clinging too. And I had been clinging hard. So, for the last two months, I have been acclimating to adulthood, but mostly, letting go of a lot of the past. When I arrived at the lake on Sunday, after a day of disaster, I didn't feel at peace at all. In fact, I had never felt more anxious in my life.

I went to bed on Sunday with a racing mind and woke up on Monday with a racing heart. We were going fishing with the same boat captain we had gone with since we were children, although I'm not even quite sure that Jeff remembers who we are. I was really nervous to get on the boat, I thought I would hate fishing because I would have too much time alone with myself which would allow for negative thoughts to spiral, and that is never pleasant.

Instead, the water was so still and serene that I felt my heart rate start to slow. My sisters and parents kept catching fish after fish, and I was trailing significantly behind in our competition (which would determine who got to pick dinner), but I didn't care. I casted my rod and let the hook land wherever it wanted to. It made me feel closer to my poppop and mommom. I thought about his tall stature and serious nature, that always dissolved when he spoke to my sisters and I. I thought about how my mommom would sit in the corner and make us all laugh. How she would kneel next to me and tell me how she had painted her toes golden because the reflection of the water would attract the fish. Even though it never worked, she did it every summer.

Being back at Lake George has allowed for me to find a great deal of perspective. It's really hard to be a human, especially after you lose all of the grace that is given to you when you're a child. But being reminded of how much growth and change I have accomplished since I was a little kid has taken such a weight off of my chest. All the anxieties I have about such small things and even the big ones just go away when I look across the water and into the trees. When I remember that we are all just little kids that grew a few feet and learned how to act serious. I feel grounded again, I feel whole, I feel ready to grow up.


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