Sometimes it Takes Awhile

Camp, Pleasant Lake, The County, Maine

The summer the kids and Colin and I went to Maine, we were not right in the head.

That is to say, life was a little askew for all of us. It was good for us that August to pile in the van and get out of dodge. We drove a long way… up to Ontario and then across Quebec and into Maine. The kids were thrilled at the quiet border crossing that the guard was willing to go in and find the stamps and mark their passports.

We made it to The County, and we were ready for a little R&R. Kayaks and campfires and familiar faces.

Our friends, Ellen & Peter, their sons Morgan and Devin, and Ellen’s Ma & Pa, Clayton and Charlene, were all well ensconced in the regular summer “camp” routine. This was Ellen’s home stomping grounds, and she and her family came up to the lake to get normalized every summer.

They helped us get a little normal too that summer.

Sometimes it takes awhile to recognize yourself.  For example, I’ve been writing since I was about 6, but only about the time I finished the first draft of my second novel in 2006, did I start to see myself as a writer. Lately, it’s been in writing  poetry that I’ve begun to feel comfortable in my writer skin.

Sometimes is also takes awhile to realize: time isn’t truly linear. We all spend a lot of time in our lives running around in hopeless loops and figure-8s. I know I’ve done my fair share. It’s like living in the inside lane of a traffic circle.

Then one day you simply turn your head and notice: I can move. You change lanes.  You say “oh.” And you exit and just leave all that shit behind.

Sometimes it takes awhile to retell your story.  We all love to pick at the adjectives, but it’s work to change the plot. The genre. Most especially: the characters. The setting.

Mostly, I noticed, though: sometimes it takes awhile to really say thank you.

We made it to The County, and out onto the pleasant lake in a wobbly canoe. We laid on rented beds and heard the common loons call. We ate a fish caught in the early morning light.

Back then, I was all but numb: corralling and humming and prodding.

Now I am awake. I can see out of my front seat and my lane and down the long beautiful avenue.

I see out here all the friends who have loved us and helped us and taught us.

And yes, it’s true. I am very busy with laundry. But not so busy.

Time to think about camp again soon.

This is just to say: Thank you.

During the week of April 30th, I am the guest poet on Vancouver writer Samantha Reynold’s beautiful site, bentlily. Please do come over and have a look.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home.