I’ve been coming to Bass Lake my entire life (save for a few summers in high school and college), and I have a million memories. The last two years on morning walks, my mom has pointed out just about every house we’ve stayed in throughout the years–even the ones from when she and my dad first got married.
I remember a lot of them by little memories from when we stayed there. Like one house right on the main road, I remember being there a long, long time ago because that was the year our parents decided to let us get a sugary cereal at the store–Lucky Charms, to be exact–and my brother ate all the marshmallows out of it, so we were stuck with just the cereal bits. I know, how rude!
One year, there was a big thunderstorm that ruined part of our fun-filled week. Mitchell, Chelsea, and I were sleeping in this little room with two sets of bunk beds. It was early in the morning–since none of us knew how to sleep in back then–and we were listening to the rain and thunder. It was the first time I’d ever experienced a storm like this, and I was afraid. Somehow, to take away from the fear, we pretended that a thunderstorm only meant that there was a big bowling party going on in heaven. We would listen for the thunder, which meant that the bowling ball had knocked down the pins, and then wait for the lightning. One flash meant that it was a spare and two mean it was a strike (because a spare is represented by one slash and a strike by an X, for those of you who don’t bowl). It was backwards, since the lightning comes first and the thunder second, but we didn’t know that as kids. It made us less afraid, and that’s what mattered.
Even now, I think about that memory whenever there’s a thunderstorm.
But I remember things like wearing my sleeping bag as a dress and sliding down the falls and seeing a shooting star for the first time. Bug bites and sunburns and lake water. If it’s not a bathing suit, I’m not wearing it. If it’s not junk food, I’m not eating it (except now in my life when I’m craving vegetables all the time–seriously, who am I?). And it’s not a real week at the lake without watching Shark Week–or being constantly caked in sunscreen, lake water, and dirt.
Here, I’m carefree.
The real world doesn’t matter at the lake. It’s like I’m in my own little bubble–a blissful bubble. The memories I have mean nothing without the feelings that come with them. I’m home when I’m here. I’m loved and happy and complete.
I come home with a bag of cute clothes, unworn. Untouched, actually. I live in my swimsuit while I’m here, and nothing else. My face gets a break from any kind of make up. And as uncomfortable as I can be with my body, I’m perfectly content walking around in my bikini and a t-shirt. Not even my body image issues can touch me at the lake. It’s a very special place.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to go this year, with all the traveling I’ve been doing this summer. I thought I would have to work, and my job is not always something I can ask for time off from (which isn’t a problem, since it’s all during the week). But lo and behold, fate worked it’s magic, and I got to spend four and a half days in my favorite place. Once I got a whiff of pine and lake water, all the not-so-good things on my mind faded away and the only thing I had to stress about was remembering not to fall asleep in the sun without reapplying sunscreen.
Like I said, the outside world doesn’t exist.
On top of this freedom, I get to see Edie! It has been over a year since I last saw my built-in best friend, and I have (tragically) not been able to make it out to visit her in Arizona like the rest of my siblings have. I remember when two weeks without each other was an eternity. A year is far too long. And now we’re both 21 and can finally hit a happy hour together–although, as a wise t-shirt at the surf shop says, it’s always 5 o’clock at the lake. And honestly, there’s no hour I’m not happy, so it works both ways. I’m extra happy to hang out with Edie.
I know I’ll have to face the real world as soon as the pine trees disappear from view, but I don’t mind it too much. I know I’ll be back. I always dreamed about living at Bass Lake forever, and sometimes that dream still creeps up on me, no matter how much I grow up. Across the street from the house we’ve been renting lives a couple named Kenny and Ginger. They used to rent out their house (to us sometimes), but when they remodeled it a few years back, they live in it mostly full-time. I hope I end up like them–in a big beautiful house on the lake, watching the sun set over the hills and playing Cards Against Humanity with the vacationers.
No place has felt more like home to me than Bass Lake
except maybe London. It gives me hope and faith and safety. It’s like stepping into a perfect world.
Until next time…