When I was 4 years old we moved to Lily lake. It was a small private lake with white sand on the bottom and crystal clear water. The entire town was full of lakes. None were as clear and beautiful as Lily. Some of the lake’s waters were orange because of the cypress trees. Some were muddy on the bottom. Not ours. It was perfect. Directly across the lake from us lived my mother’s mother, nana. After school I swam across the lake to her house. The lake was my refuge. It was my peace. Some days I would swim as fast as I could to get to her house. Sometimes I would lay on my back in the middle of the lake and look at the sky. I loved the silence of being under the water. I loved the way my hair swirled around me. I loved the freedom I felt in the water. Sometimes, I would swim half way, then rest on the slalom course buoy.
You can barely see the colored floating buoys in the water. That was the half way mark. I would sit on them and half of my body would be above the water and half under. I would look around the lake and feel…safe. This picture was taken near the front of my house, in the boat, and looking directly across to Nana’s house. The lake was choppy the day this picture was taken because many boats were out. Most times I swam it was glassy.
See how clear the water is. That’s part of my daughter’s arm in the water and you can see it perfectly. She was learning to wake board that day. She got to enjoy the freedom of the water too. I started bringing her to the lake when she was still in the womb! My mother still lived there. I swam across the lake until I was 8 months pregnant. My daughter was born in the winter months. As soon as it was warm enough, she was back at the lake with me.
I took this pictures on one of the last few days I was at the lake. I loved the huge front windows in the living room that looked out over the water. I loved the breeze that we always had over the water. As you can see the dock is fully out of the water. The ladder that goes up to the dock was one I climbed every day as a child to then jump back in the water again. The lake has gone done alot. The white sand on the beach used to be beneath the water. Now it is perfect for sand castles. My daughter made many.
My mother sold the house to my brother a number of years ago when she remarried. She moved to another lake and he got our lake house. We had my daughter’s 1st birthday there when my mom owned it and my daughter’s 16th birthday when my brother owned it. My first boyfriend wrote that he loved me on the closet shelf when I was 15 years old. When my brother bought the house from mom, he and his wife remodeled it. They added an upstairs and painted, changed flooring, etc. On my daughter’s 16th birthday I walked back to my old room. I was brought to immediate tears when I saw that even after all the remodeling, my brother had left my boyfriend’s note to me on the shelf. He hadn’t painted over it. That meant something. It meant to me, that my brother kept just a tiny space of me there. He didn’t paint over my existance.
My love for dusk came from the lake.
I loved that lake. I loved that Nana’s house was right across from ours. I would swim to her house and walk back. The walk was a mile. And I loved every minute of it. There were blackberries along the dirt road. There were orange wildflowers that were my favorite. They bloomed at the beginning of spring just when the water was barely warm enough to swim in. I would skip and sing and twirl down those dirt roads home.
I told my daughter last night about my swims and my walks home. She said how unsafe it seemed that I was walking home down a dirt road by myself so young. But nothing ever happened to me swimming across the lake or walking home. Something happened to me on the other side of the lake where the criminal lived.
This picture was taken right after I quit my job skiing at Seaworld. I came home for a short time, back to the lack. If you look behind me in this picture, the white sandy beach right behind my elbow, that is where the childmolester lived. That is where I got molested over and over and over again. This picture is hard for me to look at. I am conflicted in my heart when I look at it. It represents good and evil, peace and turmoil, See that pink bouy? I never noticed it before. I’ve looked at this picture a thousand times and I have never seen it. I was too busy looking behind it at his house.
The lake, itself, represented and still represents my calm. I can think of being under the water or floating and immediately…breathe. I needed the water to offset the evil that was going on otherwise. I needed the orange flower because the orange flower made me feel innocent again.
I have kept the hope in my heart that one day my health would improve, my family, at least my brother, would see the ere of his ways, and I would one day stand at that water’s edge again. I hoped that the child molester would one day be gone and I could just plunge in the water one last time and cleanse myself of everything and everyone who had harmed me. I hoped. I hoped that one day my family and so many others would interupt their fantasy and illusion and interject the reality of me, and accept that. Accept what was done to me and stop blaming me for the dysfunction but rather blame the liars and the molesters. I hoped.
Last night I found out that my brother sold our lake house. The selling price was $400,000. I immediately started to cry. I felt painted over. I felt erased. I would never get the chance to swim in my refuge again. I would never stand victoriously on the beach one day. I would never swim under the water and tap into the memory of Nana’s warm towel right after I made it to her house that she would wrap around me every time. $400,000. I believe my mom sold it to him for a little over $115,000. Something about that price made me even more upset. Such a profit on the pain and suffering I felt and everyone else denied. It just felt like another betrayal. A deep deep betrayal. Logically, I should be thrilled that I never have to look, in real life, at the house across the lake. I should be happy that that chapter of abuse is closed. But my nightmares remind me. At least if he still had the house, one day, I hoped, I could swim in the water again. I have found peaceful places, don’t get me wrong. Sitting next to the ocean I find peace. In my husband’s arms I find peace. It’s just the lake, the water itself, represented something very deep within my soul. My brother took that from me when he sold the house. It just feels like another loss. A loss I need to work through and let go. It will be a process. Selling the house means more than my family would ever know because they would have to acknowledge what happened to me there to understand. And they won’t.
My husband and I went for a walk today. I could not believe my eyes when I saw an ORANGE WILDFLOWER! I immediately got out of my chair and tried to take a picture of it. I couldn’t get a clear picture. They were all blurry. But that wasn’t the point.
The orange wildflower reminded me of the good. It reminded me of skipping and singing and twirling and freedom. It was right there on the side of the road in our neighborhood. Sitting there, not knowing it would evoke such memories. It seemed to say, ” You can find refuge again. You can find safety again. Just look at me and be reminded that the good is and will always be there.” I hope the little orange flower is right.