Sleet burst down our backs in furious sheets. What started as drizzle had turned maliciously into a raging fleet of sharpened raindrops, their smart tails whipping against our rosy cheeks like aqueous bullets. With plastic grocery bags slung over our wrists and jacket collars futilely shielding our fine neck hairs, we dashed across the pot-holed parking lot and jammed ourselves into the car. Holy shit, that fucking hurt. We sat momentarily breathless while the bitter arrows of early-April rain-turned-snow shattered down on the foggy windshield. The wipers blinked and we sat like the eyes behind the car’s lashes. Breathe in, breathe out, blink one two three times—and now we can go.
The lake is our one reliable refuge, our consistent place of escape that never questions our questionable behaviors or erratic intentions. Even in its roguish swell and tempestuous fervor, the water is a safe-haven for unvoiced wishes and shared confessions. There is nothing that can stagger it—not promiscuous desires or seedy offenses or secret, inky thoughts that dwell in the soft squishy places between your sides. It is the place to go when you either want to forget or want to remember.
We chose to forget. Parking the car on the hill above the frozen beach, we unraveled our wasted minds by snacking on a ragtag feast of French bread and Brie, mango slices, rotisserie chicken, and sweetened green tea. Our fancy utensils: a pocketknife for slicing and spreading cheese; and our chilled, naked hands. This is fucking perfect. Folk rock guitars accompanied by wavery vocals, the hum and sway of poignancy and wishful thinking— this is the soundtrack of our vital days. What we own is not worth more than what we think, and what we think is more than we’ll ever be able to account for. For the time being, this is all we have. We sit in the car, wind rushing all around, and whistle, sing, chew, laugh, choke, and watch the gulls gliding over the thistledown in one big, volatile halo.
After we finish licking the mango juice off our fingers and brush our jeans clean, merely observing is not enough. We are compelled to befriend the milky birds, tempting and satiating them with our excess bread. They hover buoyantly, their mouths wide open and pining, reveling in such abrupt good fortune. Some are able to catch chewy chunks of bread in their small beaks as they streak sporadically through the air—a truly admirable skill. They are a chalky militia of relentless scavengers fueled by a ruthless rivalry among fellow comrades. They croon a dogged battle song, a salty sea chanty of More, More, More. It is all we can do to keep our balance amidst the thick sand beneath our feet and the turbulent squall enveloping our young, already strained bodies. The sleet slaps and jilts us—April’s uncharacteristically prickly reception. Even the gulls feel slightly betrayed, although it is not enough to quell their feisty, ravenous appetites. In fact, the harsh weather only seems to strengthen them.
Lashed by the wind and the rain, we retreat back to the car, kicking up cascades of sand in our wake. Slinking back down in our seats, there is little to say that the lake has not heard before. For a change, we listen to what it has to say. It sounds a bit caustic along the shallow shore, but we trust that it is calmer further out. Somewhere past the frosted horizon, the water falls off the edge, or maybe it only tapers off in silty rivulets. We won’t know for sure unless we actually paddle across, but we’ll save that for another day, perhaps once we’ve all completed our second decade of living. By then we should have it all figured out—the sand and the gulls and everything. By then, the lake will have told us its secrets, April will be resolutely warm, and we will have real silverware to dine with. For now, though, This is fucking perfect.