When you are growing up, did you have that friend that you could talk to, laugh with and just enjoy being around mainly because you could say what you wanted and not be judged because of what you said or what you thought?
I was up North in Michigan (a ritual of people living in the southern part of Michigan heading north on the week-ends) to enjoy the beaches and the comfort and quiet that exudes from the pent up hustle and bustle of the big cities of the “south” of Michigan.
I was fortunate to be able to spend my summers up at Crystal Lake (about 30 miles west of Traverse City). My mother was a teacher, so she had the summers off and my father did the week-end routine of coming up on Friday Evenings and heading back home on Sunday Afternoon.
This was a ritual that many working men did on the week-ends scheduled around their vacation time. I am sure that it is not only Michigan but other states do as well, especially in the northern sector of our country.
There were others families that came from many other parts of the country, even California and the state of Washington. Obviously these people had different arrangements whereas the father would come up for his vacation time and maybe a few other times during the summer.
People from Indianapolis and Chicago frequently spent long week-ends “up at the lake” and wouldn’t think twice about driving this distance.
Many of the cottagers have been there because the cottages had been handed down through generations of families. We have a cottage that is shared with my sister’s family as our folks had purchased the cottage many years ago.
Many of the lakes in Northern Michigan are glacier lakes that were formed during the glacier age and they are spring fed. So consequently, they are very clear and deep. Crystal Lake is very appropriately named because of the clarity of the water.
Friends or acquaintances have asked me why would I drive all that way for such a short period of time (the drive is about 4 and a half hours and the stay was about a day and a half)? I have answered it with: “if I try to answer that question, then I don’t think I could truly answer it, rather someone has to experience it themselves to get the idea of what I am talking about”. This is not only true about Crystal Lake but many of the lakes in the northern half of Michigan as I have discussed this with friends from other lakes.
This just sets the background of some of my best friends that I had met and thoroughly enjoyed through many years. It was like having two sets of friends, those from the lake and those from my hometown in Southern Michigan.
One of my friends (we will call him Charley) is someone that I met up at the lake when we were 12 years old. We usually ran around with a whole group of people and rode our bikes to wherever we needed to go. One of the popular modes was in a boat with a small motor because you could go anywhere on the lake without a drivers license.
This eventually translated into water skiing, a bigger boat and much of our initial experience was because we couldn’t drive a car but we could drive a boat.
When we got to that magic age of 16, we were able to work at the gas station that was the only one on Crystal Lake and we were well taught in the art of selling. When we approached the car, we would start cleaning the windows of the cars and then ask if we could check the oil and fill the tank up.
We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our summers full of summer romances, softball and beach parties.
After these summers many of us went our separate ways because we had to try our hand at learning what the world was all about and getting a job and finding out just what our interests might be beyond the fun of childhood and living on a lake during the summer. Were we well to do?, far from it but we were lucky that the opportunity presented itself for many of us, as it allowed me to have friends for a lifetime that have been the staple of my life.
This friend Charley, gives me the opportunity to confide in and discuss things that I might normally have trouble discussing with anyone else. I can tell him things that bother me or even the deeper thoughts that you probably wouldn’t discuss with anyone else. He doesn’t judge me or tell me that I shouldn’t feel that or be concerned about this, but rather gives me the comfort of being able to openly discuss whatever it might be that I need to discuss.
For me, this is refreshing and just plain relaxing and an outlet that doesn’t always exist in your daily experiences or existence. I was just up at Crystal and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Charley and I didn’t realize just how therapeutic this time was until I was making my way home to Southern Michigan via the highways and had some good time to just think – no radio, no CD music, at least for a great deal of the trip. Fond memories of the childhood we had at Crystal but also what has translated into our present lives and some hows and whys.
Fond memories but more than that, way more than that and some clearer pictures of where I stand today and tomorrow and beyond. I have a much clearer pictures of my WHYS and what I want to do about it!
Do you have this kind of person in your life? If you do, you are one lucky person – just like I am!
Believe in Yourself – The Shortest Route to Success!