Then and Now

I had hoped to make this a writing weekend, but my plans fell apart in the end and I wound up doing some serious housework instead. The bathroom got a deep cleaning, as did the living room. I cleaned off my desk, organized my filing cabinet, and weeded through the living room. Curtains were hung, new lighting added, the shower curtain was replaced. Then there was laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and catboxes to contend with. All told there were three bags of garbage taken to the dumpster, along with several other bulky items, and four totes were put into storage. We now have room for the couch we haven’t bought yet, the litter box is hidden away, and our apartment looks a little less dorm room and a little more like a place where two adult women might live.

And that was just Saturday.

Sunday I was up at my grandmas with the rest of the family, moving things from my aunt’s to my grandma’s for a yard sale. Back and forth, across the lawn. Up and down the stairs. Sweeping, moving furniture and boxes. The knots in my shoulders could be entered Open Class into the State Fair for macrame at this point.

The lake where my grandma lives was a huge part of my life as a kid. The first piece of property they bought up there was a vacation home that they had been renting since the ’30s or ’40s, back when it was a resort town. When they retired, they purchased the house across the street and it became the destination spot for the family for vacations, family reunions, etc. Grandpa could tell you anything you wanted to know about the local history–who built the man-made lake, what it was like on Friday nights at the resort hotel up the street, and all about the old amusement park on the other side of the lake. it was the place where I had the most freedom as a child. I could wander pretty much all over the island at will, provided my mom knew when I left the cottage. I think that was the place that made me really want to be a writer, since it was the place where I did the most reading.

We spent at least a week up there every summer, as well as every summer weekend, every major holiday, and sometimes weekends during the school year. I always brought stacks of books with me, and combed the dozens of local yard sales for Nancy Drew or the Babysitter’s Club, or any kind of book about childhood adventures. My fondest dream was the explore the abandoned hotel at the end of the street, but the old women who owned it lived right next door and were known for keeping and eagle eye on the place and pulling shotguns on trespassers.

That hotel wormed it’s way into at least two unfinished stories that I began in middle and high school. Maybe I should revisit it at some point.

After the economy tanked in 2001, things went down hill fast. For town whose entire economy has been based in tourism for the last seventy years, it was hit hard. Marinas closed up overnight. Houses still stand abandoned. There are now only five restaurants left (including McDonalds!) and even one of the (only 2) grocery stores shuttered about five years ago.

I miss the vibrant, exciting place I had as a child. Seeing it age and wear down in the same way my grandparents have is depressing, and I wish that there was something I could do to revive it.