Have you ever been to a place that you just never want to leave? A place that just has a way of speaking to your soul?
I think I must have been a fish, or a blue heron or a king fisher down at the Lake of the Ozarks in a past life. Maybe it’s in my blood, my loving this place. My parents fell in love here. I have come here pretty much every summer for my entire life–save for the last two years. I didn’t realize just how much I missed it until I came down to the dock this morning and felt my eyes water.
I love the way the sun hits the waves of the lake and makes the whole thing shimmer. I love the way the air smells so fresh. This place just has a way of making me feel happy and excited and free.
I have so many good memories of the lake. My family used to stay at Kirkwood Lodge each July. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would all spend one glorious week there. Each day we would spend together swimming in the outdoor pool or on the swimming dock. We would break for lunch and get back at it in the afternoon. The nights would be filled with bingo, dancing, home made snack, and then close with games. Cards and catch phrase are what I remember most. We would go to The Grand Ole Opry, Old Time Photo, Big Surf amusement park. My dad and I would participate in the fishing competition. Every summer we would do the same things over and over over. We would go boating and tubing. We always had orange soda and hot tamales on the boat. One year we got a wave runner, or a jet ski, depending on what you want to call it.
I love the traditions my family made, even if watching the home videos of these trips are humiliating. Maybe I hold the Lake of the Ozarks in a special place in my heart because I have such a good association with it. But it feels like so much more than that. I don’t think I would tire of it if I lived here.
I’m not sure anyone else I’m related to feels quite this way, feels like the Lake speaks to them. Maybe the one exception is my dad. I can see it in his face, in the crinkles of his eyes that he loves it here as much as me. Maybe it’s because of him that I understand this place, and love this place.
It’s just one of those things. It feels like in order to understand this feeling you have to be initiated over a number of years. You have to have gotten splinters in your feet from the wooden docks. You have to have taken a fish off a hook and released it with your bare hands. You have to have been thrown from a wave runner at least five times. You have to have gotten serious air on the tube when your aunt hits the waves of a cruiser. You have to have seeked out the solace of the water in the early morning. You definitely should have quacked at the ducks and fed them chunks of bread.
I hope I can keep coming here. I hope I can share this with my children. I hope one day I can never leave here.