crossposted from The Wild Wild Left
The crunch of the sand seemed intrusive to the pre-dawn still of the morning, as she dragged the row boat off of its little wooden dolly that served as a trailer for the riding mower. “If the mower didn’t wake up the world, this surely won’t,” she thought.
The little electric motor was blessedly quiet as she slipped around the first sand bar and headed out of the cove into the lake proper. The sky was still silver, the water inky with the beginnings of the fingerlets of mist striving to break free from the confines of their fellow molecules in the lake. It was already warm, going to be a scorcher. The air smelled soft and thick as the birds started announcing the arrival of the first light.
She cut the motor and drifted into the second sandbar at the point. She needed the stillness and to think. She slipped off the shirt and shorts covering her bathing suit and stepped off into the water. Water always felt like home. It brought the inner quiet that brought the clarity the city sounds always drove out. Out in the water, or in the woods; it was a different world, a world in which there was only you and the everything. It made one feel both infinitesimally small, and immeasurably connected.
There was no better place to be at the crossroads in your life.
Things were going well for her, financially stable at last. The fear that had been her constant companion for years had dissolved into distant memory like a yellowed photograph from a distant age.
She was doing better, but the world was doing much worse in so many ways. Like the fogies of old, the post-depression codgers who didn’t trust banks and hid money in their proverbial mattresses, most of her assets were cash. That too, was frightening in a world rapidly turning to shit.
That’s what brought her to the crossroads after all. How much is enough? To just settle into her bastion of security and improve the home she had, or to move on. Her child was about to graduate and they had talked long and deeply about what to do next.
The options lay all around her, she really could do anything now. All she knew is whatever it was, there would be water. Yummm.
The slap of a fish jumping up to feed in the now pink morning light brought her back to herself. The air thickened with humidity making her damp hair curl about her, so she twisted it up into a clip to stay cool.
“Mom, we could get your dream house up somewhere in the middle of nowhere, right on a lake. You could have your pontoon, your garden, your greenhouse,” he had suggested more than once. “We could even make it a few small cottages, and bring our friends to live there too.” A commune, dear God, she certainly had influenced his thinking through the years. But familiarity does breed contempt, and living cooperatively usually took more than most people were willing to offer. Still, what good paradise without people to share it with? Music, laughter, bonfires? Certainly, there was a place in the UP where some she knew already settled in, self-sufficient hunting and fishing.
She felt the wash of wander-lust come over her again. She had always dreamed of getting out. She didn’t want bigger houses, or fancier cars, she wanted less stuff to babysit. And clean, no less. It was all about the quality of life, the time spent more than the material world to her.
The leaves across the way now glistened emerald green as the sun breached the horizon. As the world-sounds got louder, she heard little but the vibration that underlay everything. The heartbeat of the Earth.
“What do I want?” She pondered, “Why is this not enough?” The dream had always included moving to somewhere with a Social Democracy, somewhere sane where her boy could have a future that didn’t include rape scanners, spying and there were actual jobs that didn’t pay slave labor. She wanted him to break away from the false reality that was American consumerism and Class War. Venezuela, perhaps, or Costa Rica. Costa Rica had elevation as well as gorgeous beaches and rivers. You could live like a king in a shack. They had visited more than once, and it never ceased to amaze her how much happier the people were, unstressed, and how the world seemed to not only provide food, but teemed with healthiness and balance.
But Michigan had its points too, and she felt an overwhelming sense of homesickness sitting there in the water. She had pushed off the spit, and just let the boat drift into the middle of the lake. The lull of the waves was hypnotizing. The seasons, the colors, the very rolly-polly greenness of it all. Its where her family of choice were.
It would be so nice to be able to walk out and step into the water without dragging around the block on a riding mower. This is where her family of choice lived. There certainly were enough houses for sale waterfront around now. But what future her child here? There was enough for college, and while they were now reasonably well off, they were far from rich, and the system was set to predatory now. Thats why the few investments she had made were all overseas, all in green companies that treated their workers well. Small returns, steady returns, safe returns without the risk of American Ponzi scheme investors.
This was home. “Hardwood floors, knotty pine paneling, maybe bust out a couple skylights…” She liked projects and could now make her little island pleasing to her senses. But the water called.
For not much more, she could have a stick house instead of the glorified trailer with all the inherent problems that a manufactured house had. And it could be on the lake.
But she was in the lake now? How much is enough, wherein does money become entitlement to the best real estate? How deep her own greed? What would that teach her son?
She dove back off into the lake, swimming as deeply as she could go into the cooler strata’s beneath the sun warmed surface. Cooler, clearer.
“Choosing not to decide IS a choice,” she reminded herself. She was getting older. She was already happy. But doing nothing seemed a cop-out, a capitulation to her dreams. There were simpler worlds. There were worlds in which the people cooperated, rather than competed. There were places that were not full of pollution and toxic waste. It was almost to the point she was afraid to fish this chain. It was getting over-fished anyway from the increasingly poor suburbanites depending on it for food.
She pulled the boat with solid strokes back to the shallows to be able to crawl back in with less effort. Yeah, she was getting older alright.
The sun was fully up now, bronzing her freckled shoulders. Her stomach rumbled as she finished the coffee she had brought along. She looked down into the water and saw the spawning bluegills guarding their shallow nests, saw the first swirls of minnows flashing by. And there it was. The answer came in a flash.
Home was wherever she was, after all. The world, every molecule of water had been everywhere else once. And it was all the same world. Here? North? Or far, far South, she would be okay.
She smiled and decided. This was no longer about her.
Let the boy decide his future. No matter what he decided, where ever it took them? She would create a home, a touch-base, a place he could come back to and feel home.
Its always the minnows that complete the chain.