My family and I started making annual trips to Conneaut Lake in 2000. We had been there many times before, but that year it was determined (by some matriarchal figures, I don’t know, I wasn’t invited to the tribunal, I just show up when they tell me to) that as many of us would gather there at the same time every summer. Conneaut isn’t the most upscale vacation destination, but it’s affordable and family-friendly and just generally very nice.
The times that we spend there tend to run together in my memory. I can’t remember for sure what year it was that it rained all week or when the husband discovered the little gold mine of a record store in Meadville. I’m sure the fact that we spend most of our evenings tossing back libations doesn’t help, either. The landmarks are stuff like, “The first of two years that we stayed in that one cottage,” “The summer before the husband and I got together,” “The next summer, when I was pregnant,” etc.
I think this year’s landmark will be, “When the baby took off on his own.”
As I mentioned, the baby had a crush on a girl, one of his older cousins’ friends. And in general, he spent most of his time with his cousins, a group of boys ranging in ages from 2.5 years (though that one was still very close to his mama) to 18. At night, he slept at my grandparents’ cottage. Not with us in ours.
I wasn’t nervous for a second about that. His cousins, though rambunctious, are very good kids and would always make sure that the baby was safe. But it was tough to go the whole week without hanging out with him. It was my first real taste of not being his preferred companion.
Of course, having a week where I only had to half-parent was kind of nice. The husband and I did our own things. I got up early to jog. He slept in and traveled to the aforementioned record store in Meadville. We reunited in the evenings to watch Arrested Development and laugh our fool heads off. Then we’d squeeze together onto the Carter-era mattress that rolled us unwillingly too close together.
“Dude, give me some of the sheet! I’m freezing!”
“Get OFF me!”
“I can’t help it! There’s a divet!”
And we took an intimacy quiz from an old issue of Oprah’s magazine. Going by their measurements, we’re basically doomed. After tabulating our results, I peered at the husband with a grave expression and told him that we needed some work. “After all, marriage is serious business,” I noted, before we both dissolved into laughter.
It was an odd sort of loneliness last week. Surrounded by a ton of family members, the same people that I’m fortunate enough to see once a year, the one person that I wanted to spend time with and couldn’t is one of the people that I live with. I would try to hug him, he would push me away and insist that he was a big kid and I was treating him like a baby.
By the time we got home, he was more or less back to his old self, eager to join in our conversations and willfully giving me hugs on demand (though his kisses are growing more restrained, which just won’t do at all).
Right now, I’m in a weird space between trips. Still readjusting to regular life, I’m scheduled to depart for BlogHer on Thursday. While I’m in New York, I’ll miss the baby’s swim meet. I already can’t wait to get back.
Note: I promise that I’ll stop being so wistful every single post some time soon. 😉