Dear small New England Town:
There was a time when this town was my only vacation outlet. As a child, I spent every weekend of the summer here. We had a campsite in one of the campgrounds right on the banks of the lake. I spent some of the best times of my life in that campground. Sun-soaked days on the lake, campfires at night. I learned to do so many things and made so many friends. I fondly remember the excitement of everyone showing up at the beginning of the season after a long winter. Anticipating the fun ahead. Bittersweet memories of late summer nights, lying in the field and gazing at the stars knowing that the summer was almost over and school would soon start.
As I grew older, and my family moved on from a campground to a house I visited less. I was a young guy with a job, the occasional girlfriend, and friends. All of which made the 2-hour drive less desirable.
When I got married and had children we came up as often as we could. My children always loved it up here. They got to do all of the things that I did as a child. Just not as often. We were limited to day trips, and only if the weather was projected to be nice. We felt that other than the beach there is nothing to do here.
When Dad retired Mom and Dad made a life up here. They turned a small Chalet into a much larger, year-round house with a garage and a lawn. They became full-time residents here in 2001. I didn’t know how they did it. Other than the beach what was there to do here? I could never grasp the pace. With the exception of the 4th of July parade, the town seemed pretty dead.
I am now a full-time resident of this town and I will be for the foreseeable future. While I was driven here by less than ideal circumstances, I have to admit I love it here. The town is beautiful. The air is clean. The people are nice. The buildings are old. And the pace is just the way I like it.
I have come to the conclusion that my body has been breaking for a long time. I blame it on trying to maintain a pace that I am not capable of anymore. The hustle and bustle of my former life were killing me and I am not cut out for it anymore. I don’t know how I managed so long. But my new pace will extend my life.
I can’t step outside without childhood memories washing over me. When I sit by the lake I still see Dad’s smiling, tanned face as he drove the boat. Mom in tow on waterskis smiling from ear to ear. At night, I take a deep breath and savor the smell of wood-burning stoves. I still look up at the starlit sky, but now I see hope.
I will experience my first winter in this wonderful town. I am here for better or for worse. I plan on enjoying it. Getting involved in the town. I want to meet as many of the people as I can. I want to be accepted, for I am now a resident, not just a seasonal visitor.