There are “sweetest days” that loom large on the marquee of a life. Wedding days, days children are born, days of heady professional success.
For me, there’s one sweetest day I can still summon up to slow down my heart rate and quiet my mind when the world cranks up the volume on my anxiety tape. It wasn’t a big day, nor was it amazing. But it sure was sweet.
I don’t remember how old I was — as young as twelve, as old as my late teens. I do know I was an adolescent and it was summer and as fall approached I knew I’d be thrust into the rush of school activities and teen angst with barely time to catch my breath.
I was in Charlevoix, Michigan, with my family. We were at a secluded beach at Mt. McSauba, which is not so much a mountain as a large-ish sand dune. It’s not a place tourists will easily find, so even on the most postcard-gorgeous days, it’s peaceful. First, you have to have the fortitude to slog uphill through the sand on the forested side of the dune, then as you reach the crest, a dazzling vista opens up at your feet – sun dancing on deep blue water reaching out to kiss the soft sandy beach. Then, if you’re a kid or even a giddy, nimble adult, you can skip down the beach side of the dune, your momentum throwing you into the horizon.
That’s what this one particular sweet day was like. A running-down-the-dune kind of day. Lake Michigan was bracingly cold, but the day was so hot that the cold felt decadent. Our time at the beach was running short, so I waded in for “one last dip.” As regular readers will know, I’m not much of a swimmer. But I do like splashing around, swimming underwater for short stretches, floating around and bobbing in the waves. After a satisfying splash, I came out of the lake and walked back to my towel. The day was hot enough that I was instantly warm again. I didn’t bother toweling off. I just stretched out in the sun and let myself bake dry.
I wiggled into the sand, making a Kris-shaped divot more comfortable than any Sealy Posturepedic. I closed my eyes and listened to the rhythmic waves, almost like the lake’s own breath, while the sun rained down warmth.
And I knew right then I’d have to memorize that moment. Because soon it would be fall and busy and stressful, but if I stored up that moment’s peace, maybe I could call it up in times of need.
And for fifteen or twenty years, it’s worked. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can page through my memories until I find my sweetest day, like a worn page in a scrapbook, and stretch out in the sand again.
Is it any wonder I set Real Life and Liars in Charlevoix? If one plans to spend untold hours mentally elsewhere, why not pick someplace sweet?
Edited to add this important reminder!
We’re still celebrating the launch of Cancer is a Bitch, by 2008 Deb Gail Konop Baker! Don’t forget to check out our contests page and enter for a chance to win a signed copy.