The gentle Lake Erie air kissed my skin as I found myself thinking about the future. The day was August 1, 2015, and I was enjoying yet another ideal summer day, lazily reading on the expansive wrap-around porch of the 140 year-old Hotel Lakeside in Lakeside, OH, a cozy Chautauqua community on the shores of Lake Erie.
The town feels like a living Renoir painting; brightly colored sailboats dot the water, trees whisper to one another in the breeze, and the air is filled with a harmony of children’s laughter, the wrestle of the waves as the friendly church bells alerts vacation-goers of the beginning of another hour. In between the hotel and the lakefront is a snug patch of lawn, edged with petunias and lilac bushes, causing the air to have a scent that tickles your nose and reminds you of your grandmother’s perfume.
If my surroundings weren’t stunning enough, a wedding was beginning to take place on the lawn. Little girls sharing the porch with me tucked their knees under their arms and squished their noses against the porch screen, oogling, I’m sure, over the delicate snake of buttons on the back of the bride’s dress and her crisp crimson lipstick.
An elderly woman sat with her loved ones, tiny tears forming in her inner eye as she squeezed the aged hand of her husband. A young father sat in a rocking chair with his small, tired and sandy daughter, rocking back and forth beaming with love as his child feel asleep in the bend of his elbow. As the newly married coupled walked down the grassy isle with their faces aglow, I thought that it would be sincerely irresponsible not to write in the presence of such happy energy. For me, when I feel the need to write, I become absolutely immobilized with the need to have the story leave my heart and enter the world. If you’re a writer, you understand. Telling a story that you’re proud of fills with you with immeasurable love. My sincere wish for every person is to find what fills him or her with that happiness.
I’m willing to bet that each and every one of you has something that makes you wake up in the morning, something that sets your heart in delicate flutters, sends your mind in dizzy circles and pulls you from your weakest moments and gives you clarity. At least, that’s my relationship with language. If my love of writing could manifest into a man, I’d look at him in the way the delicate bride looked at her new husband. He’d be the type that makes you slur your words even while sober and makes your knees buckle in his presence.
Words and I began our fruitful relationship when I was just a rosy-cheeked young lady. When numbers crowded my brain and sent painful, salty tears in zig-zag patterns down my face, I knew that my collection of books would wipe my tears away tenderly. Words made sense. They painted stunning pictures for me as my eyes scanned page after page of black and white, which fascinated me to no end. It sounds cheesy, but when I read something I find to be intensely beautiful, it almost makes me cry. It was in the second grade when a book brought tears to my eyes for the first time. I sat in my backyard reading Where the Red Fern Grows, my maroon loafers clicking impatiently. As I entertained a crisp breeze on my face, I remember reading a sentence that struck my tiny heart so deeply that it brought soft tears. What made my wonderfully naïve self cry? I couldn’t actually tell you. But it was then that I realized that nothing on the good green earth could make me happier than my love of language. I never turned back.
So as I sat by the lakeshore thinking about my future and writing about the joy I saw around me, I was in a place of immense peace. There is no greater gift than being surrounded by love and being in love with your aspirations. And don’t you know it, I had both.