Remember

Remember. verb. “To have in one’s mind an awareness of something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past.”

2016-07-30 21.23.59.jpg

Fall is here. The school routines have found us. I’m awake before the sun now, and I wear mascara every day. We fell easily into these rhythms. It feels like what we’d always done. (It is.)

Already, the easy breezy days of summer seem long gone. They were sweet, full of ordinary surprises. Sometimes I fear that I will forget them. The memories will disappear from my head, poof, like the definition of cosine and the way to fold a fitted sheet. So I write them down, just as I send myself reminder emails of online resources and copies to make. This is my to-do list: do not forget these moments.

I toted books to the park most days. I used to live minutes from the one with the lake. I brought lemonade and a blanket and, in the pages of a mystery, stopped fighting the quiet gift of rest. Teens playing Pokemon walked by, and I peeled back the layers of memory lying over the grass and walking trail: walking with the boy when our relationship was young, running long laps around the lake, eating sugar-laced beignets, following my brothers on rented bikes, paddleboarding at sunset.

2016-06-28 16.23.21.jpg

We slept outside on the dock one weekend. The air was clear and cool, and scattered stars kept us awake. We found constellations, and talked sleepily as sisters do, and listened in the pauses to the chatter of two teenage boys on a dock further down. We curled up under our sleeping bags and drifted off to the lullaby of shooting stars and waves against shore, the one composed just for us. I woke early, to bright sun and a lake shining like glass.

2016-07-31 09.03.42.jpg

We went sailing one afternoon, on the bowl of a lake. I sat near the bow, ducking as the boom swung and tripping over the keel every time we tacked. The boy sat in the stern calm and confident, framed by blue sky and blue lake and blue polo shirt. We’d talked of going sailing, just us, for years. When we finally did, I wanted to freeze time, bottle it, to return to sun and sweetness on lonely winter days.

We drank iced tea and ate tuna tacos at our favorite restaurant, up the shore on Lake Superior. When we were no longer hangry, we tripped down the steep shore, climbed rocks, skipped stones, snapped pictures. The water was clear enough to drink. Stones – heart-shaped, striped, perfectly round – loaded our fists, just as they did 17 years ago when we looked on the same shore together.

DSC_0295.JPG

I hold these moments as I look at the end-of-summer sunshine out the window. It reminds me there is still time left: time to go outside, to wander, to rest. So I strap on skis during our last lake weekend, even if the water is cold and the air colder. I bring my book to our tiny patio after school. I walk through parks, avoiding the geese headed south, on Sundays. The slow, sweet moments return. I won’t forget them.

Advertisements

September

September. Proper noun. The month that includes the start of school, the official beginning of autumn, and changing leaves, and renewed passion for newly sharpened pencils.

DSC_1815-1

September has been a month of new beginnings and unexpected challenges. But there have also been small, sweet things. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share some of those things I’ve been loving.

Reading

For the Love – Jen Hatmaker. I think I need to move to Texas so Jen Hatmaker can be my neighbor. She writes about real things with candor and humor and spice. If nothing else, read it for the chapter on leggings and other fashion fails. No one else is ever going to refer to a muffin top as a “tragic fat spill” and get away with it.

Pastrix – Nadia Bolz-Weber. Nadia Bolz-Weber and I have opposite lives. And personalities. She’s a fiery Lutheran pastor who got saved from a wrecked-up alcoholic past, leads a church meant for misfits, and uses salty language. None of that criteria fits me, I don’t agree with parts of her theology, and I would probably feel uncomfortable in her church. And that’s why I need to read books like this. I need to remember that my spiritual battles are not the only ones people are fighting. I need to remember that God loves even the most unlikely of us, and he is in the business of making all of his people new.

For Women Only – Shaunti Feldman. To be honest, I only got a few chapters into this thrift store find. This little book is about how mens’ minds work, based on surveys and interviews with real guys. The chapter on what “Men need to be respected” actually means was helpful, but I didn’t find the other bits that I read particularly mind-blowing. I’ll probably pop in and out of this book, but I don’t plan on reading it all the way through.

Watching

Inside Out. I haven’t cried so much at a movie in a long time. That might not be normal for a grown-ish woman watching a Pixar flick. But tell me what you’re going to do when you’ve been bummed about your long-distance boyfriend being gone and he’s finally in the state and you get to watch this movie with him and the point of the movie is that you have to feel sadness before you can feel real joy. You cry, that’s what you do. Despite the waterworks, I liked this a lot.

The Intern. What a funny, sweet movie. I’ve liked Anne Hathaway since her Princess Diaries days, so I thought my friend was brilliant for suggesting we catch a last-minute matinee. It’s about a start-up that hires senior citizen interns, and everyone – from the old people in the theater who clap when the show is over, to my cooperating teacher at school, to my college friends and me – could find something to enjoy about it. The ending didn’t sell me completely, but the rest of the movie made me adore Ben and how he made everyone around him better.

Gilmore Girls. I watched the most dramatic episode yet, involving a party and a fight and a revealed secret and a high school dropout and a drunken phone call and a turned-down romantic plea and a love triangle and an incommunicative boyfriend…and I realized that sometimes I watch TV shows so I care about drama that’s not my own. And I’m okay with that.

Listening

If you’re having a bad day, play this song on repeat.

The Ellie Holcomb Pandora station. Continually solid, especially on tired mornings.

Loving

Oh for adorable. It doesn’t get much cuter than this 101 Dalmations inspired engagement shoot.

I appreciate Addie Zierman so much. She takes on happy Christian romances in this post in a real, not mean, way.

Birkenstocks. Still. Again. I’m on a desperate hunt for comfortable and cute teacher shoes, and until I work up the nerve to spend money on some, I’ve been living in these.

I need to scrounge up my pennies and buy a copy of Amber Haines’ new book already. In the meantime, loving this post.

A new (free!) bookshelf, which makes our apartment look less like a dorm and which gives me a place to display my favorite quotes.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Brené Brown should be running for president. She is brilliant and would make our world an infinitely better place, as she proves it in this article.

My people. September has shown me that I have amazing friends and family who will send me long emails when I need advice, hash out the details of my life in the aisles of the Goodwill and tables at Chipotle, text me when I’m feeling down, and offer prayers and support. I’m so thankful for you all.

Doing

The grand adventure of student teaching. I’ve been spending my days with ESL kiddos in grades K-5, and I’ve learned a lot thus far. For example:

  • I did not inherit my mom’s natural skills with kindergarteners – why is teaching something as simple as the alphabet so hard? At least they’re adorable. If you would ever like to be told “Every day you are so beautiful,” and “Miss C, you are just so cute!” hang out with the 5-year-olds.
  • If you do experiments that involve messes, ice cubes, and blowdryers, 2nd graders will want to touch everything and actually be excited about solids and liquids.
  • The days go by much, much faster when you are actually teaching than when you are sitting and observing.
  • State-mandated assessments for teacher licensing stink. And are a lot of work. But they don’t physically kill you.
  • Teaching 6 of our 11 groups feels like a lot…and next week I’m taking on all of them. Here we go…

    First day of school. I've got a teacher badge and everything.

    First day of school. I’ve got a teacher badge and everything.

Last lake weekends. Labor Day brought the annual trek to Rollag (a steam thresher’s reunion – think really old tractors and steam engines) with my grandpa, dad, and siblings, flea market-ing, and a few final minutes in the lake. My sister invited a huge posse of her friends to the lake the following weekend, so I tagged along and got to lesson plan from a hammock and witness one of the most fantastic sunsets of the summer. I’m in denial that those days are over for the year.

Horses at Rollag. Best part.

Horses at Rollag. Best part.

So excited that I can still float on the lake in September

So excited that I can still float on the lake in September

DSC_1825

Amazing photo by my dad

Attending a vintage country wedding. One of my dad’s cousins got married, and even though I had never met the bride or groom, I dusted off the cowboy boots and discovered wedding dances are way more fun when you don’t know anyone and don’t care if your white-girl sober dancing makes you look like a fool.

DSC_1905

The fam, all spiffed up

Going out with our boots on

Going out with our boots on

Tagging along to a Twins game with my little brother. He needed a ride. My calendar was open. It was fun. Thanks, Caleb, for knowing amazingly generous people who give you great seats.

And they won!

And they won!

Anticipating

In October, I’m looking forward to…

  • Reading more
  • Getting a four-day weekend over EM break (yay, Minnesota!)
  • Finishing the edTPA
  • Going for runs on the beautiful trail I just discovered near my apartment

What have you been into this month?

July (2015)

July. The month of the Fourth of July and my birthday. Also the month of the year that seems to fly by the fastest.

DSCN3256

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share the things I’m loving this month. Head to the link-up to get some great recommendations.

Reading

A lot.

Just One Day – Gayle Forman. In high school, I remember spending an entire summer afternoon reading If I Stay, another Gayle Forman book about a girl in a car accident, and crying for nearly the entire book. Going into this book, I expected similar emotional manipulation. This story is about Allyson, a rule-follower who spontaneously decides to spend just one day in Paris with a mysterious street actor, and spends the entire next year getting over the experience. Beware: much boy angst and wanderlust for Paris ensue. This book wasn’t particularly deep, but when I read the ending, I might have actually stared, open-mouthed, at the book and said aloud, “That’s the end?,” so I guess I got my emotional manipulation after all. Overall, an enjoyable read that made me remember why, as a teenager, I could read for afternoons without stopping.

Dear Committee Members – Julie Schumacher. This book, by a writing prof at the U of M, was a clever story told in the letters of recommendation and business correspondence of a fictional writing professor of a small university. After working in a professor’s office and overhearing many conversations about inter-department politics and budget cuts, I found this book additionally amusing. The writing is smart, funny, accessible, and though sometimes it’s hard to find an overarching plot in the letters, the end is surprising and makes the entire book work.

Rules of Civility – Amor Towles. This is possibly my favorite kind of book: an exploration of different, fascinating characters where nothing particularly explosive happens but little events keep uncovering new revelations. Rules of Civility follows Katey Kontent, a young New Yorker, and the vivid people who shape her life in 1938. The story felt like a book version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with a sharper, less flaky narrator. The writing was clear, with clever descriptions and simple flair. Simply put, I loved this book.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart. This YA book, about a girl who hates being underestimated and tries to infiltrate a boys-only secret society, is fun. It has a few traces of interesting social critique, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.

Found – Micha Boyett. I stumbled across this in the library, and what a serendipitous gift as I lived out a quiet, seemingly unremarkable month. This was a gentle, grace-filled book about prayer and motherhood. I’m not a book underliner (especially in library books), but this book made me want to be one with lines like, “Stability is not something you do,” and “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” Loved it.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity – Lauren F. Winner. Why do I feel the need to clarify that one can read books about sex without having sex? Now that we’re clear, this book. It focused on chastity, or basically doing sex within God’s intentions. It did more than toss out a few verses from Paul; Winner went deeper into the theology of the body and sex, busted common myths, and shared her own story. Though I didn’t agree with all of her ideas, and I’m curious how her thoughts have changed now that she’s no longer a newlywed, I’d recommend this for the fascinating conversations it sparked and ways it made me question my unconsciously-held ideas.

Persuasion – Jane Austen. My dad claims that all Jane Austen novels/movies are exactly the same: sisters lacking money search for men. There is minor disaster and someone has a scandalous history. It ends happily. That isn’t exactly true… though this one did have all the major ingredients. It also had a little more rawness. Austen nails the descriptions of pining after lost love, perhaps because this novel supposedly based on her own lost romance.

 

Watching

Hector and the Search for Happiness. What a delightful movie. Hector, a bored psychiatrist, goes on an international journey to learn more about happiness (and find it for himself). He learns that happiness is such things as “being loved for who you are” and “avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.” It’s tender and funny and insightful. (It’s also rated R for a few f-bombs and some implied sex, but I didn’t think it was too offensive. My mom recommended it to me, if that tells you anything.)

The Minion Movie. I have great friends who take me to children’s movies on my birthday. It was exactly the kind of silly you expect from the Minions. Nothing deep, but all kinds of cute. I still want a minion of my own.

Sleepless in Seattle. I got to introduce an uninitiated friend to this movie, which I feel is one of my callings in life.

The old Footloose. I prefer the new one, honestly. Is that heresy?

A little FRIENDS, and when I needed a something new, a little of The Vicar of Dibley. Alice, particularly her story about I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, makes the entire show worth watching.

 

Listening

Dan + Shay – Nothin’ Like You

Tried-and-true favorites like NEEDTOBREATHE and Ellie Holcomb. I need something new – any thoughts? What are you loving this summer?

 

Loving

Still jamming on salads in a jar, especially one with ranch, salsa, rice, chicken, corn, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and crushed torilla chips. The perfect summer lunch (and a cheaper Chipotle substitute).

Mail. Few things make me feel more loved than getting cards.

This Instagram account, a guy who records his adventures as a third wheel, is hysterical.

Free outdoor yoga classes. A park down the road from my apartment offers free yoga a few times a week, and I’ve been trying to hit them when my schedule is open. Though one time I stumbled into a PiYo (pilates and yoga fusion) session and thought I might die, the other sessions have ended with me feeling incredibly relaxed.

These realistic-looking images of Disney princes. Yessss.

Skype, the savior of long-distance relationships (and it’s free!)

Freshly updated dressers. I spent one evening spiffing up a beat-up dresser. All it took was a sample size can of paint of interior paint – just enough to cover the drawers – and some new drawer pulls from World Market.

I suck at decorating pictures. But for a beat-up dresser, I like this.

I suck at decorating pictures. But for a dresser dug out of our basement, I like this.

Doing

Working with kids at the park. Pros: my job includes tasks like going off a massive zipline into a pool, playing laser tag, and giving piggyback rides in the pool. Cons: my job includes tasks like dealing with kids with selective hearing or ones that cry because they can’t get their shoes on, and I have been asked by children when I am going to replace both my phone and my car. At least it’s different every day.

Celebrating the Fourth of July at the cabin, complete with an extra day off, naps in the hammock, sparklers off the dock, and terrifying tube rides from my brother. Don’t trust 18-year-old boys to drive their older sisters.

Looking patriotic

Looking patriotic

Visiting my longtime roommate and friend. I got to hang out at her house, cackle at ridiculous Backstreet Boys and N’Sync music videos, craft, and drive around Minnesota’s Iron Range. I miss having her around!

Hull Rust Mine overlook

Hull Rust Mine overlook. Both photos from the lovely Janae.

A truck tire from the mine. For context, I'm 6'1".

A truck tire on the vehicles that work in the mine. For context, I’m 6’1″.

Gearing up for a sweet friend’s wedding with a bridal shower. I can’t believe that someone I became friends with on my first day of college is about to get married!

Thrift store dress for the win. Photo credit: Rachel's mom, who actually remembers to take pictures at events.

Thrift store dress for the win. Photo credit: Rachel’s mom, who actually remembers to take pictures at events.

Celebrating my birthday with dear friends. I got an evening full of surprises, complete with a visit from a faraway friend, dinner at Eddington’s with lots of breadsticks (a classic for us), the Minion movie (because nothing says 22 like animated movies), and cupcakes with candles. I felt so loved.

Feeling 22!

Feeling 22!

Hanging out with my family for another lake weekend. We ate a ridiculous number of peaches and spent many hours on the water. I swam all the way across the lake and failed at getting up on one ski. It was perfection.

DSC_0612

Classic. Anna says “We’re going to die!” while Caleb says “Go! Faster! Gun it!”

What have you been into in July?

Small

Small. adjective. Little, puny, a size that is less than normal.

image: davejdoe via flickr

image: davejdoe via flickr

The fire had burned low. As my brothers and dad fled inside, away from the mosquitos, I walked to the end of the dock. I lay down, flat on my back, knees pointing towards the infinity of stars. It was dizzying.

It’s cliché, I know, to feel incomparably small in the face of legions of stars, burning softly above your head. But for a second, my breath stuck in my throat. I was just one girl on one Minnesota lake one Saturday evening in June. There were so many people I would never meet, corners of the universe I would never see, things I would never understand. Even things from my own little life, I might never make sense of. Once again, the future is uncertain. I should be used to it by now, the free-falling of life without a plan. But still it scares me when my little heart is adrift in a sea of possibility and unknown.

As I lay looking up at the stars and into my emotional heart, I could have reacted as I used to when I was young and thought about infinity too late at night, tramping down the stairs in tears because endless time and space were terrifying. I shiver when I have to face what I cannot understand.

But this time, despite the anxiety and overwhelming sky, I felt comfort, an inexplicable grace. The stars wrapped around me and my smallness. I sensed their maker smoothing love over me, calming my restless heart.

You see those stars? I made and know every one. I made and know every fish in this lake, and I anticipate when they’ll flip and make you twitch, out here in the dark. And I made and know you, too. I’m not too busy for you. I see your feat, how you’re desperately afraid of being lonely. I see how tight you cling to what you love and how much it hurts to trust. I see the ragged spots on your soul. And because I made you and love you, I see what it will take to heal you and save you and love you. Though you are small in the hands of a big God, you are never forgotten.

Favorite

Favorite. noun. According to Dictionary.com, “A person or thing regarded with special favor or preference.”

summer

Summer is my favorite, for ever and always.

I know that August is when people begin to whine that it’s sweaty and humid and that they’re ready for falling leaves. Psht. (That’s my skeptical, don’t-be-ridiculous noise.) They clearly don’t recognize the good things in life. For example: Fudgesicles and flip-flops and going outside without a jacket and Vitamin D. I could go on.

I will, actually.

Here are a few (more) of my favorite things.

Weekend destination: the lake. There is no other logical place to spend a hot summer day. All of the following pictures were taken at the lake, because the best things happen there.

Style: polka dots, navy blue, and bleach-blond hair. Though this combination is timeless and works in all seasons, I believe it’s best in summer. Especially when it involves a swimsuit. It’s unfortunate that styling swimming suits with my grandpa’s work boots is not quite as timeless.

polkadots.jpg

Time of day: sunset. The light is best when soaked up lakeside, the glow reflecting onto rosy cheeks and messy hair.

sunset

Accessory: a lifejacket. I still spend as much time in the water as possible. As a responsible lifeguard, I get that lifejackets are, well, life-saving and necessary for some water activities. They can be quite stylish and flattering, too, as is obvious in the picture below. However, for safety reasons, the throwback, mustard-colored versions that are far too big should not be donned by curly-haired kiddos.

lifejacket

Adrenaline-spiking activity: tubing. Tubing was great, and not that scary, when I sat securely between my big-kid cousins. It’s also great, but far more scream-inducing, when I go with my younger brother, who is psycho and enjoys my terror far too much. Just look at his maniacal grin.

tubing2.jpg

There are so many more favorites I could include. But I realize that not everyone is as in love with this season as I am. Like Mother Nature. She’s giving me clues that it’s time for this season to wind down. Twilight comes earlier. I’m buying back-to-school essentials instead of sunscreen. Only one lake weekend remains on the calendar.

I’m clinging tight to those last breaths of summer. This season has flown by, leaving damp swimsuits and empty tubes of sunscreen and new favorite memories in its wake. I don’t feel ready to let it go quite yet.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have a choice. And I suppose I’ll be okay. After all, there’s this thing about seasons – somehow, they always come again, and in just nine months, the season will start all over.

Anyone want to count the days with me?

July 2014

July. proper noun. According to me, one of the best months of the year for its sunshine and summertime vibe.

July

July, which is one of my favorite months of the year, is over. I don’t know quite what to do with this. Other than link up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into and share the things I’ve loved this month.

Reading:

Attachments and Fangirl, both by Rainbow Rowell. I discovered Rainbow Rowell when one of my friends recommended Eleanor and Park to me last winter, and I adore her. I devoured both of these books. They’re the perfect summer reads: romance-y but deeper than the typical boy-meets-girl, witty, surprising, and buckets of fun. (Warning: They’re PG-13 for language, but they’re never creepy or explicit with the romance part. I would recommend them to my mom without embarrassment.)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I try to read one classic every summer, and this was my pick for 2014. It’s a fascinating look at guilt and condemnation that is still relevant, even though our world is a bit less uptight than Puritan New England. It also reads faster than most classics. After wading through Les Miserables last summer, I appreciate that.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Barry. This book reminded me of my grandpa sitting in a rocking chair and telling stories, in the best way possible. Jayber Crow is the story of a small-town barber and Port William, the community where he lives. He lives a small, ordinary life, but his observations about the community and his philosophical insights are striking and beautiful.

 

Listening to:

“Classic” by MKTO. This is my jam right now. It’s poppy and adorable. And I would love to be called “old-school chic,” though the sloppy state of my summer wardrobe (think athletic shorts and flip-flops) makes this unlikely.

Ellie Holcomb. She sounds like fireflies at dusk and iced tea in Mason jars and hope.

 Scotty McCreery. I don’t like driving with the windows down, even on sunny July afternoons. (I know, I’m a horrible country girl.) But if I did, Scotty’s crooning would make the perfect soundtrack.

 

Watching:

More Numb3rs with the family. (But I’ve discovered that I can only watch one episode per night, or I have dreams that people are breaking into our house and that Charlie will be creating algorithms to solve mysteries about my life. Yes, my family mocks me for this.)

Tried-and-true movies. I’ve been spending most of my movie-watching energy on flicks I’ve already watched and loved. Like You’ve Got Mail – I could watch this movie on repeat. And The Princess Bride, the one movie with princess in the title that even my brothers don’t complain (much) about watching.

 

Randomly Loving:

This video. I’ve always been a Colbie Caillat fan, but this video made me love her for more than her California-girl vibe. Watch the video, and read the fascinating story behind the song here.

This article scientifically proves that you should fall in love with me. Okay, not just with me, but with people like me who read a lot.

I make lots of snarky comments about selfies. But even I approve of them if they look like this.

Word nerds, have I got a video for you. I fully intent to use this video on my future English students.

 This article, which is just the encouragement that I need to keep whacking away at my keyboard. It reminds me to show up, to make art in the imperfect circumstances that are dumped on me, and to be real.

Prairie sunsets. City skylines just can’t compete with the wide-open sky of the boondocks.

An unfiltered pic my dad took this summer. It's like the Lion King.

An unfiltered pic my dad took this summer. It’s like the Lion King.

 

Keeping Busy With:

Sneaking as many moments at the lake as possible. Because duh.

Tough girls go tubing with their brothers.

Tough girls go tubing with their brothers.

No makeup, messy hair, boating in the sunset. This is my happy place.

No makeup, messy hair, boating in the sunset. This is my happy place.

Procrastinating on the scholarly paper I needed to write after going on trip to China. Yes, I know this was in June. Yes, I know I’ve had all summer. Yes, I did turn it in at 11:03 p.m. the night before it was due. I do think cross-cultural communication is interesting, but procrastination habits die hard, even in the summer. Especially in the summer.

Turning 21. I skipped the whole 21-shots-at-a-wild-party routine and ate really delicious flourless chocolate cake with my family instead.

DSC_3934

Heading to the county fair to drink 4-H stand milkshakes and admire the shaggy cows, which my brother affectionately calls yaks.

Spending all day, every day at the pool teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding. But now I am done for the summer. Done. After going into the pool every single day for a lot of weeks, I am heading back to the Cities, where I will wear real clothes again. It’s very strange.

My mom happened to be at the pool on my last day. Don't worry, we didn't take our eyes off the pool for long!

My mom happened to be at the pool with a camera on my last day. Don’t worry, we didn’t take our eyes off the pool for long!

Writing…not much. Last summer, I was a weekly-posting machine and I thrived on it. This summer, not so much. I have a few messy drafts hiding in my computer, but words were slow to spark this month. Maybe I’m getting too perfectionist-y (again), or maybe my emotional and mental energy have been elsewhere (like in reading Rainbow Rowell books?). Whatever the cause, I’m trying to make peace with it.

 

What are you loving this month?


Vertigo

Vertigo. Noun. According to Dictionary.com, “a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.”

d19557689330cb66d36f22e263ca07df

Photo credit: Pinterest

I love rides. All of them. Even the rickety county fair ones and the ones that go upside down. When I was a little kid at the county fair, I would scamper enthusiastically from Tilt-a-Whirl to Scrambler, spinning and screaming the life out of my four-hour wristband.

But sometimes when my four hours was up, the spinning wouldn’t stop. I’d wobble to the car feeling dizzy, the ground uncertain beneath my feet. Vertigo would hit.

Sometimes life does that to me, too.

Like when I realized that my summer is over.

(Okay, so technically summer ends on September 21, but everyone who has any sense knows that once you go back to school, summer shuts down.)

On Friday, I said the big end-of-summer farewell to the pool, where I packed up my sunscreen and stopwatch and handed out end-of-the-week suckers for the last time. Normally by the end of the season I am sick of shouting at kids and watching endless kicks and cannonballs. But this summer, I felt like I was just getting into the swing of things. I wasn’t quite worn out yet. Maybe it was the crappy weather that’s kept business way too slow. Maybe it’s that I actually like my job. Whatever it was, it made washing swimsuits for the last time was a little more sudden and bittersweet than usual.

Then on Saturday, my family snatched one more day at the lake. The weather miraculously cooperated, and I kayaked and swam and tubed and squeezed the last drops from summer. It was blissful and sunshiny and way too short. When the sun went down, I felt like tearfully begging my parents “One more day!” like I used to do as a kiddo when we packed up to head home.

If you can’t tell, I wasn’t quite ready for it all to end.

Now I’m back at college. Boxes have been unpacked, friends have been greeted, the first day of RA Training has been completed, the inaugural game of sand volleyball has been played. It’s good. And the rest of the school year will be too. I hope. But it just feels like summer ended jarringly, without my permission and not in the exact manner I would prefer. August is not supposed to be colder than June. I’m not supposed to get sunburned two days before my job is done, leaving me with a scaly lobster-tinted nose. Three months of family time and sweet sunshine are not supposed to go by quite so quickly. I should not enter the school year feeling unprepared for my new role and dizzied by new expectations after having a whole summer to prepare.

It throws me when things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to.

It shows me I’m not in control.

It tells me that stuff is going to happen whether I want it to or not.

It makes me yearn for stable ground that won’t whip me around until I’m dizzy.

It’s a good thing I know Who’s constant, Who’s in control, Who’s going to hold me steady. Otherwise this Tilt-A-Whirl of life might make me a little nauseous.

Hydrated

Hydrated. adjective. According to me (because all of my other sources write obscure definitions about chemistry, which is not the point of this post at all), “Soaked or infused with water. Antonyms: dry, parched.”

In the summer, I am not a smooth-skinned, sun-kissed babe.

I have spatterings of freckles. And scorchy sunburn. And scratchy bug bites. And dry crackly spots.

After the past few marathon weeks at the pool, it’s especially bad. You know your feet are in bad shape when your fourteen-year-old brother makes disgusted comments about the Sahara-like state of your heels. Getting into the pool for 18 days in a row will do that to you.

My soul was a little parched, too.

Until last weekend.

Last weekend, I got an itty-bitty vacation. Praise the Lord, I got to go to the lake.

DSCN1405

The lake looks much like any of the other 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. It’s a dot of water containing hosts of sunfish, an exceptionally weedy bottom, and little nature other than the lily pads at the public access. The furniture in the cabin doesn’t match and beach towels are always lacking. It is ordinary to the extreme. But it’s one of my favorite spots in the whole wide world.

At the lake, I float on air mattresses with my grandma. I ponder whether a toothy Northern Pike might snack on my toes when I fling off the inner tube in the middle of the lake. I get quivery when I strap on skiis and yell “Hit it!” I dangle legs off the dock and read.

If you hadn’t noticed, I spend a lot of time in the water.

DSCN1355

All of this water soaks into my soul, hydrating my scratchy patches. When I’m feeling dry, I get uptight and angsty and overly serious about every dang thing, my days blurring by in a monochromatic stream. It’s then that I need is a bit of lake, where I can scream and splash and ski my inner kiddo out of hiding, the one who is not always responsible and does not have to be productive at every waking moment and is not afraid to run around in swimsuit bottoms all day (even when the cute boy on the jetski drives by).

I’d love to have this freedom and abandon all of the time, the weight soaked from my shoulders and my heart feeling easy-breezy. But that’s not possible. Real life rolls on, the place where I have a pool to manage and swimming lessons to teach and lunch to pack and gas to buy. Sometimes it will drain a girl’s spirit, this whole everyday-life thing.

I think I need to find a closer lake. Like as close as my backyard.

Until that happens, I’m going to be content with using my hours off on home-style vacation activities. When I get in a real life rut, I forget to do what refreshes me and makes me feel awesome. So rather than sitting and staring at the wall (Facebook or otherwise), I’ll read books that resonate, make art (okay, crafts) that add beauty (in my world, anyways), and sit in sunshine and breathe the summer air that slips away too quickly. In a pinch, I think these things will help hydrate me too.

But just in case, I think I’ll head to the lake as much as possible.