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When We Were Young

Anything was possible

By Erin BarteskiPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
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When We Were Young
Photo by Oliver Kruse on Unsplash

The sound of waves rushing back and forth along the shore. White foam clinging to the rocks for dear life, afraid of being drawn back out into the black emptiness.

I couldn’t imagine my life not growing up lake front. The serene beauty of it but also how quickly it can pluck life away. It wasn’t until I was nine years old that my parent’s put me in swimming lessons. But by then, I was already haunted by the water. It was a kid from school’s birthday party; I had attended, they called for lunch and cake so all the kids rushed out of the water leaving me alone. For a second, my feet could no longer touch the bottom. Water covered my face, and I began to panic, unable to cry out for help. I thrashed my arms wildly and kicked my legs as hard as I could until my face broke the surface again. I did it. I learned to swim by drowning. There was no one there but me wrapped in the cold, dark, comforting embrace of the water. I think she’s always been there for me, guiding me with her hand. As a reminder of how quickly circumstances can change.

The rest of my adolescent years were spent boating, tubing, swimming with my friends, sledding, ice fishing and walking on the ice in winter-time. There were always stories from the locals though, about people that went out and never returned home. Ceremonial crosses lined the rocks and reefs of the area that caught unsuspecting people of guard, but that was just apart of life here. The village was in fact too small to be considered as such until the summer months, at which our population dramatically increased. A lot of three-season cabins remained dormant for the winter months, that we might have broken into. Even tourists from all over would traveled to our remote community for the fishing.

The limestone crevices and caverns nearby are what remains of an ancient sea. Over time, the coral reefs and lime mud compacted into limestone.

The Oogo Bogo, my friend told me lived in the water but we only caught glimpses of the beast and heard it at night. Was it real? Or just some story we told each other to scare one another when our imaginations ran wild. The water was covered in a thick layer of ice and when it shifted, it made such a loud sound that echoed off the land. We assumed it was the elusive creature moving about at the bottom of the water. I wasn’t one to turn down a dare, so I would run straight into the icy water at the beginning of winter because I wasn't afraid when my friends were around. Usually, their fear was enough for all of us.

The water was sacred to us kids in a way, we held bonfires on the beaches to burn painful memories of the past that we wanted to forget. To release bad energies when boys wronged us, cleanse and start anew. Anytime a breeze rolled off the water and surrounded me, I felt at home. Connected to my roots. I have always been drawn to air for as long as I can remember. The windier, the better. A blanket that activates my goosebumps.

One summer afternoon, Leah and I rented a canoe from the Marina but we stayed close to the shoreline, when we spotted a dog. I tried to talk to it but it got too excited and jumped into our canoe. We tried to balance the weight by leaning the other way and ended up tipping the canoe. I had to go home soaked to the bone and explain to my parents what had happened, who thought it was just another lie.

Late afternoon days, after school we would spend in the boathouses. The ones without locks, anyways. It is where we went to talk and smoke the forbidden cigarette. Carve our names into the wooden walls. A place we could pretend was our very own.

I loved exploring the nearby islands, except trying to rock climb in flip-flip sandals but we were young. What did we know? Imagining what the old collapsing buildings used to be. Finding old trinkets in the dirt such as old Coca-Cola cans and other garbage people left behind, no telling how long ago.

I wonder how many bones could be found on an island? Human and animal alike. Exploring a place not many people have seen is quite extraordinary. You feel like your apart of some secret club worthy enough to see. Did humans actually ever live here? Was that collapsing structure a school house? There is something so serene about nature taking back what is rightfully theirs.

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About the Creator

Erin Barteski

Fascination with the unknown

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