We're heading to a lake this weekend, for a long family reunion weekend. Last year I confessed to you that I was afraid of flying. I also revealed some deep-rooted DMV phobia as well. This year, I'll share another fear with you: I'm afraid of lakes.
Maybe I've seen one too many sub-par creepy lake monster movies or read too many books featuring hidden monsters and horrors lying at the bottom of still, brown lake water. In theory, I like lakes. I like the idea of rising with the sun and watching the lake come to life with wildlife. When we lived in Rochester, New York, I loved Lake Ontario, which seemed to me always to be more like the ocean than a lake.
But lakes still kind of creep me out, mostly because I have lake stories--two that scarred me.
In one, I'm in elementary school, and swimming in a lake with friends--I can't remember the details. Brownie Camp maybe? When I climb out of the lake onto the rocks I look down and see a large, black, slimy something clinging to my leg. I still don't know what it was, and what happened afterwards is a blur. But I know it involved lots of screaming and leg-shaking and the realization that there were THINGS down there. Things I couldn't see. Things I didn't want to see.
In the second, we're at a lake with L., who is only 9 or 10 months old. I'm in the water with him, wading, and holding him under the arms. I steady him, let go for a moment, and turn back to the shore to wave at Scott. When I look back L. is gone. He had somehow soundlessly slipped into the murky brown water, almost without a trace. Of course I pulled him up right away, but I was, as all parents are, haunted by the what-ifs. What if I hadn't been right there? What if he wandered away from us and the lake swallowed him up? How would we find him in time?
I was telling some friends recently about my lake phobia and I discovered that I'm not alone. Lakes bother my friend, too, who is happy to sip her coffee from a chair on a dock, but who hasn't gone swimming in a lake since she was a child and felt something dark and unseen nibbling at her ankle. Others I have talked with have expressed similar distaste for vacations by the lake: too buggy, too hot, too still.
I'm an outdoorsy type of person, but give me the beach any day. I'd much prefer to sit with my feet buried in the hot sand, and I'd rather dive into a blue-green wave then into brown lake water, with all its hidden secrets lying below. I'd rather be on a sailboat, than a kayak, and I'd rather be slathering on sunscreen than insect repellent. Maybe though, to get through the weekend, I need to follow the advice we so often hand out to L.: it's okay to try something new, something different, something you may not even know you'll like. Maybe I'll be okay: I've got my lakeside books to read, my MacBook, my French press coffee maker, and a bottle of chardonnay.
Wish me luck! More on Monday...