Currently, I am sitting at the desk at the office, covering the phones so that the receptionist can enjoy her lunch. I have a fresh cup of my favorite coffee in front of me. I picked it up on the way from campus to work; a Bruegger's House Blend. The phones are slow right now, I just get the occasional coworker passing through the main room. I give the obligatory "Hi, how are you", "Good, and you?" and I hardly wait for their answer. I'm not in the office right now. I'm in my head, pretending I'm somewhere else. Trying to picture the most peaceful, happy place I would want to be right now. A couple of places come to mind and all of them places I've already been before, dozens of times. I know it's ignorant to assume that out of all the places in the entire world, one of the handful of places I've ever been is truly the best. I know this, but that doesn't mean that I don't automatically picture the one I already know and love.
So I'm not at the office right now, answering the phones. I'm sitting on the porch at the lake house. It's not 1:50pm on a Tuesday either. It's some time in the early morning, let's say 7, on some day where I have nothing that needs to be accomplished whatsoever (perhaps a Tuesday, at the lake it hardly matters). I have a fresh mug of coffee in my hands and I am living out the creed on my coffee mug: "PAUSE." in small black type on the side. The period in that statement as important as the statement itself. It's own small pause at the end of the pause. A pause from what, you ask? I couldn’t tell you, but I pause just the same. The lake is still, the fog hasn't lifted yet and even though I know there to be another shore on the other side of this lake, for now I cannot see it.
There is just white. The white of the overcast sky and the fog and the reflection of the sky on the water that all blends together into one expanse. The only break in the white, the boats in their boatlifts, and then the reflections of the boats in their boatlifts, almost clearer and more crisp than the originals. The birds are starting to rouse, Maybe the sandhill crane family is hanging out by the end of the dock. My Dad is up and getting ready to paint, or probably painting already. Maybe Camp is awake now, talking to his Bubba about how he is going to go play in the sand. I imagine Perri May is sitting in the baby swing, that bright-eyed smile on her perfect little face. Stephen and Micah are long gone, having woken up early for some insanely long run. Anywhere between ten and 16 miles. They'll be back soon, discussing the run and which one of them was struggling while the other one cruised. Mom and Ryann are asleep still, as lake dogs are want to do (normally I would be as well, but in this idealized morning I woke up early, although one will note it is not idealized enough for me to have gone running...).
Let's see, I'm not sure what Zack is up to, probably still asleep on the blue couch in the living room where he crashed the night before, soon he'll be up and urging everyone to get ready for an adventure. Maybe wakeboarding or sailing. Maybe he'll just have a laid back day and sit in the hammock and read some lofty book that no one but Zack could read for pleasure. Or if Maria is here maybe they’re both reading, or maybe she’s joined in the running escapades. She’s definitely up and at ‘em. Christina May has been up for a while now with Camp and Perri May and is taking this opportunity to do a workout, and maybe Stefani is here too and got up to workout with her. How everyone has decided vacation time means working out always baffles me, but I know better than to say anything else would be going on. I do know that I’m definitely busy enjoying my coffee, am still in my pajamas, and am happy to just watch.
Eventually Mom and Ryann come down. Mom takes her spot on the porch and smiles at all her “peeps” enjoying the morning together. She’s eating breakfast or taking out a knitting project. She declares that she loves this moment. We all know. Ryann is probably dressed and ready for what-have-you. She takes her time with the sleep but once she’s up not a moment will be wasted. She heads out to the sand to help Camp with the bulldozer project he’s been repeatedly doing for the last hour. Moving the clean white sand from here to there and back again. She asks him about it and he discusses the details in a serious voice while he continues to push the sand back and forth endlessly. She pretends that he has dumped it on her foot feigning that she is trapped. He laughs the way only a little kid can, with his whole self, and looks up at her to watch her laugh too. This new development is worked in to the repetition: Move sand, bury Ryann, laugh, sand, bury, and repeat. Perri May has been let down out of the swing and is making her way over to see what the fuss is about and to get in her brother’s way, that big bright-eyed smile still fixed on her little face.
By now I guess I’ve finished my coffee and we’re starting to make moves towards whatever adventure or relaxation the day is calling for. The fog has long since risen and the wide lake stretches out below the big blue sky. One of my favorite things, the vast endless blue sky and how it seems so huge over the lake. This day has so many possibilities. Will I take a canoe out and sunbathe in the middle? Maybe chill in the hammock with a good book. I wonder if I’ll try and brave the sailboat with Dad or Zack. Maybe we’ll take the other boat out and tube or fish or wakeboard, perhaps go for a mid-lake swim. We could search for arrowheads along the shore line or float on rafts over the spring out passed the docks where the water is slightly cooler. Who cares what we end up doing. It’s even a perfect day for doing nothing.
Probably a storm will come in across the lake around 3 and we’ll welcome the opportunity to go inside and sit around the living room and just chill. Maybe a cousin or two will show up to hang out or an aunt or Granna will walk over from down the street to sit on the porch and catch up and snack on boiled peanuts. Later on we’ll watch the sunset from the hammocks, or maybe even from the hot tub. We might get together and play a board game or dominoes in the living room while watching some football or basketball game. And afterwards we might even have a bonfire, and sit around it with our knees close to the warmth and our toes in the cold sand and look out at the sky. This time it’s vast and dark and covered in stars, huge over the lake. One that might make you feel small and alone if you didn't know better or if you weren’t surrounded by people who love you.
And then unfortunately, I’m actually at the office. Even though my face has forgotten this fact. It seems to think I’m at the lake enjoying family time because now I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
Do I want other things out of life? Yeah I suppose I do.
Although, right now I can’t imagine what.
And perhaps there are “better”, more exciting places in the world.
But for the moment I can’t picture one.