Into the Blue Again

When we began remodeling our new place in March, I never considered that the work would still be going on while we were at my family’s annual Tahoe trip in July. But that’s where we found ourselves six weeks after we moved in. It was time for Tahoe, and we’d only been able to unpack a one box; the kitchen cabinets still weren’t in; we were over time and budget and out of patience. What else was there to do but pack up the car and head up the mountains?

On the drive up Highway 50, we listened to the Talking Heads and the lyrics from “Once in a Lifetime” seemed to echo some of the same experiences and thoughts I’d had in these last few months:
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?”
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?
(The lyrics were so apt that I’ve used some of them as the titles of these last few posts.) The song even spoke to how I’d felt that day when we turned our backs on the remodel and on our contractor who suddenly wanted to meet that morning, and chose to head to the lake instead: “Into the blue again, after the money’s gone”.

Given all that we’d been dealing with in the months before Tahoe, I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with the family Tahoe trip this year. I wasn’t sure I could handle the reminders of how different it is from the trip that used to be so important to me. I didn’t have patience for the usual family dramas, the same worries that come up year after year about where we would all sleep, what we would all eat, and even where we would all park. (One of my aunts admitted that on nights when she has trouble falling asleep, she tries to figure out the best way to fit 20+ people in the five bedroom place we rent every summer.)

But it turned out that I needed Tahoe this year. I didn’t realize how stressed I’d been or how much our move and the remodel was weighing on me until we were at the lake. After two days, I found that I could go hours without thinking about the work that we still had to do on our place, and I began to fall asleep without thinking about how to deal with our contractor. I finally silenced the part of my mind that I hadn’t realized had been constantly preoccupied with the remodel. Perhaps because I’ve gone to Tahoe every summer of my life, just being there seemed to trigger a deep relaxation response in me.

To quote another line from the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” (the line I quote the most*), Tahoe was the “same as it ever was”, and that sameness was comforting. There was the same dock, the same walk around the meadow, the same people renting the place next door. There was the same shock of the cold water when I  dunked in the lake, and that same joy I felt floating in that clear blue water, looking up at the mountains and the sky.

Usually, I use Tahoe as a time to catch up with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but this year, I didn’t participate as much. I didn’t have long conversations with my relatives. I didn’t play cards as often as in years past. I didn’t cook as much. I hardly looked at the crossword puzzles my aunt made copies of each morning, and I didn’t even think about trying make it down to sunset every night. Instead, I just sat mindlessly and let Tahoe work its magic.

(*Around my parents and sister, I don’t even have to say “Same as it ever was”, I just do the hand gesture that David Byrne does in “Stop Making Sense”, tapping my hand down my arm. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, to go 3:53 on this video. I just watched it again and rocked out).

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