An hour and a half North of my hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, there’s a red house with a wrap around porch that overlooks the water of Lake WallenPauPack. This lake house has belonged to my family since 2000 and is where I spent most of my weekends until I was 18, and at least one week every summer since.
This place holds most of my fondest memories, like:
Driving up to the lake after school on Friday and stopping halfway each time for dinner at Friendly’s, where I’d order chicken fingers with french fries and barbecue sauce and the mint chocolate chip sundae for dessert;
Watching my childhood dog, Sophie, wiggle with excitement when our car turned off the main road and onto Lakeland Drive, the road that leads to the house. Even if she was in a dead sleep, she’d wake up at the same place like clockwork;
Staying up late, sometimes until midnight, playing Rummy with my parents and whomever else was with us that weekend;
Waking up to the smell of breakfast each morning, with all the right mixes of sweet and savoury breakfast foods;
Spending sunny summer days barefoot, jumping off the dock, battling on the tubes and dancing in the boat;
Passing the ‘golf cart driving test’ and taking it out for joy rides, flying down the hills of the colony (we were probably going 10mph but to us it felt like flying!) and breaking down in the middle of the road;
Spending autumn and winter days playing cards, reading books, four-wheeling in the woods, sledding down the driveway and ice skating on the frozen lake;
Staying up too late giggling and being told be my parents to quiet down, and waking up in the loft surrounded by my best friends and cousins; and
Teaching friends how to stand up on the wakeboard, or how to wake surf, and knowing it was a good weekend when everyone went home just a little sore and bruised.
As I grew older, the lake house began to take on new meanings for me.
It became a place where I could disconnect; one pretty far removed from technology, social media (we didn’t have internet or cable for years) and sometimes even friends.
It became a safe place; somewhere I could run to if I was sad or needed a break. No matter how stressful my life seemed at the time, I, like Sophie, could always feel a shift with each turn off the main road. The closer we got to the house, the more I could feel myself unwind.
It became a place that, while in University, I wanted to show to the people who meant the most to me; my dearest friends, or the boy that I loved, so that they could see me in the place that makes me feel the most comfortable, the most confident, and the most free.
Right now, it’s still the place where my friends and I want to go; where we choose to spend our time when we need a weekend to recharge or when we want to celebrate something amazing, like Tracey’s bachelorette weekend.
In the (way, way, way) future, I hope it becomes place where my kids bond with their grandparents; where they learn how to fall and get back up again, and where they can be silly and fearless just like I was.
I’m sure the house will continue to take on various meanings depending on where my journey takes me, but there is one thing I know for certain.
Most people think that Disneyland is the most magical place on Earth, but to me, it always has, and always will be, that red house overlooking the water.