Thursday, July 2, 2020

Groundhogging it at the Lake

By Cheryl Oreglia

It is almost Independence Day, I'm up at the lake, preparing the house for our annual 4th of July celebrations, listening to Blake belt out your lips taste like sangria (you must click on the song while reading). Just for the hell of it, I lick my lips. Nothing. Nada. They taste a little like chapstick and peanut butter. I won’t be falling into a wild warm kiss any time soon. Story of my life. And then as if I were able to materialize shit right from my thoughts, a tub of sangria walks through the front door and lands on our overly laden counter. Well, the tub didn’t actually walk into the house, it was carried by one of our more creative children, but I’m fairly certain my lips will soon taste like sangria.

When the cars are stacked up like dominos in the driveway I think “it’s time to get this party started…Tippin’ n’ spilling that home-made wine.” The house is fully stocked, sangria is flowing, and there is no chance we’ll go hungry, thirsty, or lonely for the next three days. #whoareallthesepeople? The Snapchats are posting, tweets are rolling out, and the weekend hashtags are taking form. Our top three: #frontallobing (I didn’t hear a thing you just said), #slushietime (adult beverage for adults that want to act like children), #wheresthekids (self-evident).

The age range this year is sixty to three. It somehow works. We're hosting my daughter's family of five, my Bostonian daughter who has been staying with us for a few months, and my youngest son who will be MIA all weekend, he's here, but I don’t know actually know where he's landed. The extended family owns three houses in this small lakefront community, and the cousins sort of shuffle from place to place. He does return my texts, so unless he’s being held by a hostel texter, I believe he’s fine. I begrudgingly remind myself we are celebrating our independence from the motherland.

All week there are these incredible pyrotechnics displays hosted by towns and casinos all around the lake, like a dress rehearsal for the big event, and we'll make it to most of them cheering, “Here’s to our lady” and "God Bless America." The script is the same, we boat out at dusk, drop anchor with hundreds of other boats dotting the lake, and sip sangria. It's the perfect social distancing event.

Fourth of July is like Groundhog Day, it repeats every year, even though the cast of characters seems to ebb and flow. We don’t have Tony this year who's stuck in Portugal due to COVID travel regulations, or my inlaws who decided to stay home, protected from the virus. Independence Day. Damn. I hate the reminder, as I plot and plan how to entice my son Tony to ditch Portugal and return to the states permanently. He is not having it. Hiking, camping, working for a startup, living in a swanky apartment on the edge of Lisbon is more enticing then boring Campbell. Can't blame me for trying? I’m proud of him. Livin the dream…

This weekend will undoubtedly include five-mile hikes straight up the face of Mt. Konocti, we'll enjoy some long boat rides, firework displays, we'll follow Kelley's Instastories with fascination, there'll be great meals, good wine, campfires, roasted marshmallows, outdoor movies, and lots of leisurely conversations. We'll watch the decorated golf carts parade around Kono Tayee on the morning of the 4th and play endless games of Mexican Train. I don't usually win but you never know? That's why we play and maybe that's why we return every year? Something about the known mixing with the unknown it's enticing.

Seth Godin says, “All of us have a narrative. It’s the story we tell ourselves about how we got here, what we’re building, what our urgencies are. And within that narrative, we act in a way that seems reasonable. To be clear, the narrative isn’t true. It’s merely our version, our self-talk about what’s going on. It’s the excuses, perceptions, and history we’ve woven together to get through the world. It’s our grievances and our perception of privilege, our grudges, and our loves.”

We celebrate our independence or freedom of thought, as we build our lives we get to decide who fits into our narrative, and who doesn’t. I think that might be our only true freedom. I realize it is difficult to understand each other, mostly because #frontallobing has become a national obsession, and we certainly don’t want to make the difficult journey, one if by land, two if by sea, to empathize with each other. Your thoughts are as foreign to me as mine is to you. But here’s the newsflash. We occupy the same territory in glory or defeat. I am so happy to run through the streets yelling, “the regulars are coming.” The people in my life who show up, brandishing the wine, and are thrilled (or at least reconciled) about ending up in my damn narrative. Life is a privilege, family, and friends a rare blessing, and this year I feel all the more grateful.

Eventually, the cars will pull away, the flags will be retired, and with horns honking the troops will return to Campbell. I usually stay back and finish up the housekeeping, they'll be at least eight loads of laundry, three blessed toilets to scrub (for which we are thankful), miles of sticky floors to mop (sangria much), and a pantry to reorder. I'll listen to pandora as I work, until that magical song comes on, “your lips taste like sangria,” and I'll take that as a sign.

Time to wipe the sweat from my face, put down the toilet brush, and go in search of a fruity beverage. I'll find that pitcher of leftover sangria in the back of the fridge! I'll pour myself a glass and dump my weary ass in a lounge chair on the back deck. Eventually, everything will be quiet and calm, the vacationers will pull out, and I'll embrace the silence like a long lost lover. Until next year...

A penny for your thoughts?

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, join me anytime! 

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