The first stop on the trip is my home town of Lake Geneva. Originally called “Kishwauketoe” by the natives, which means “clear water” or “lake of the sparkling water” it was renamed Lake Geneva in 1834 by John Brink. It reminded him of Seneca Lake near his hometown of Geneva, New York. It was then the lake was named Geneva Lake in honor of his hometown. Lake Geneva is known for being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons. It is also home to the Wrigley mansion… which was donated to the local fire department when Mr. Wrigley passed away.
I spent the first part of my life in a mobile home park just out of town. It felt like growing up in a little village. Everyone knew everyone and we were always hanging out. Next to the park was a big open field and a pine forest. Down the way there was a gravel pit that housed a collection of rusty trailer tractors.
Much of the early years were spent catching bugs and frogs. The rule was that we could capture as many as we liked, bring them home to show mom, and then release them back into the wild to be caught again the next day. The frogs all had names that indicated how hard they were to catch. They had names like: Slippy, Alpha, Ghost, etc.
We would fly kites in the open field and get dressed up to dance in the rain.
My brother and I used to build forts in the forest and pretend we were training for the Karate Kid. The trees were the “enemies”. Hay – Yah! Suh!
Every fourth of July dad would take his pressure washer and wet down the nearest part of the field for fireworks. The whole “village” would gather all their various snap, bang, pops and set them off together. We had a couple of close calls, but mostly we had fun.
Then we moved to a house in the city, only a few blocks from the lake. That’s when we started finding more things to do. We snuck into the basement of the local catholic church and tried to scare each other with tales of witch craft or buried bodies. Our ideas were inspired by the show “Tales from the Crypt”.
The economic system of the city is based primarily on tourism. It’s awkward growing up in a tourist town. Instead of seeing the same people, they’re always new and from out of town. They don’t say hello to the locals because they’re on vacation. This experience suggests the existence of multiple planes of existence. That you may be able to see people in the same reality, but in their minds exist different worlds.
The tourists come to enjoy the beauty of the lake, the outdoorsy stuff, the kitschy shops, the bars, resorts, etc. and then leave. It’s a wonderful place to either visit or stay at pretending you’re on permanent vacation.
I spent an entire summer at the beach underwater diving for buried treasure. Through a happy accident, I discovered that I could see perfectly clear underwater with goggles. There’s something about the physics of it that allows someone with even the worst vision to see crystal clear.
We found new wooded areas to build forts and discovered every footpath the area has to offer.
Nostalgia will conjure all manner of memories large and small that tell the story of one’s beginning. The thing I remember most about growing up here was how free I always felt. Free to be outside in nature and travel around where I pleased. Free to stay up late writing poetry at Hanny’s with friends while drinking 80 cent coffee. Free to learn about rave dancing with the “Riv Rats” or take a nap on public grass. Free to visit the library for an entire day. Free to ride my bike on all the back country roads and dream about being an Olympic mountain biker.
There were hard times too, but if you squeeze those moments out and flatten them into the lines between the sweet ones, they don’t seem so loud and they don’t get to own the story.
Today is mother’s birthday. (Yes, on April fool’s day). So, just for today, I’ll be adventuring with her…and just as the wave begins to crest, before it crashes into the shore… I’m on the road again.