ThinkKit Day 26: What place stood out for you this year? Outdoors or indoors; a huge gathering or a tête-à-tête? Where were you? Who were you with? What feeling did you have when leaving? Were you inspired? Refreshed? Or…confused and glad to be gone? Whether it was exciting…or awkward: give us a hall pass out of our own room for a few minutes.

There are two places I love to go–both in the warmer days of summer.

First, the lake.  And, by the lake, I mean the Lake of the Ozarks to stay with some of our best friends in their great lake house.  It’s a full six hour drive from our house, but there is something about this lake for me and this place.  It’s a house full of boys with only two girls (me and my friend) out of 9 people and a dog.  The lake water is so clean and warm. Our routine is established and works well.  We eat great food, drink, relax, laugh, read…and that’s about it. There are no distractions of restaurants, no places to visit, no attractions to go see.  This is it: the lake.

Traveling with other families is hard and so is being a houseguest.  But, for some reason, with our two families it works.  We have been friends since our youngest boys met in preschool about 7 years ago.  They both used to lay on the floor and cry together when she and I would leave them for the day.  It was heartbreaking.  They quickly became friends in the classroom and the preschool teacher suggested that perhaps our families should get together out of school to help the boys ‘adjust’ a bit more to school.  It worked and we have been friends ever since.

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The lake also represents some more meaningful things for me.  I am not a lake girl.  I always had a pool in my yard when I was growing up and if I couldn’t see my feet in the water, I wasn’t getting in. I didn’t mind the Gulf or the Caribbean, even the Atlantic on a calm day but I do not like lake water.  For some reason, on Lake of the Ozarks, I am able to convince myself most of the time that it’s okay.  The water is warm, like a bath; the lake is so clean and the giant trampoline thing is too fun to pass up.  I swim in Lake of the Ozarks.  That, people, represents a huge fear overcome.

I grew up snow skiing but had never water skied.  Do you know what it’s like when you sit on the back of the boat and watch your kids pop up out of the water and ski and you think, “Huh, I think I can do that.”  But then, then you try and you realize how almost unnatural the experience is.  It took me a full year, but I finally got up on water skis. I did it. And, when I finally got up, I was so excited, I let go of the rope (my husband describes it as a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit).  I also mastered the knee board.  I am not kidding when I say that getting up on skis was part of my inspiration for getting back in shape, losing weight and building muscle.  It worked.  And, I look forward to this summer getting up on skis again because I have lost even more weight and built even more muscle.

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A second place I love in the summer is Devon, our swim and tennis club.  Officially known as Devon Country Club, we often joke about that “country club” part.  It’s a time capsule.  Very little has changed since it first opened in the late 1950s.  My dad remembers climbing the fence as a kid and swimming on summer nights–it still looks the same.  That sameness is part of what makes Devon so comfortable.  It’s hidden away on a big lot surrounded be trees.  It’s private alright, but not because it’s super expensive or members have to be vetted. It’s private because it’s hidden.

This is the kind of place where we don’t see our kids all day.  They play tennis, basketball, sit on the benches and talk, swim, play board games, play water games, play sand volleyball, eat, and organize a football game.  All while I am either chatting with friends or reading quietly in the sun.  Here too is another personal accomplishment. It sounds like I am being a snob, but again, the issue of always having my own pool made public (or even club) pools kind of gross. I never swam in them.  And now, here I am! Swimming at Devon and loving every minute of it.

Sure, there are cliques, sometimes drama, gossip and I have even gotten wrapped up in it sometimes.  But even with all of that, there is always a chair for me to sit in and read.  There is always a friend for my kids to play with.  There is always a teenage lifeguard to greet me with, “Hi Mrs. Parmelee.”  I look forward to every summer spending time there with friends and my family.

Many memories have been made at both of these special places and I look forward to making many more with my family and friends in 2015.

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