This could also be subtitled “forsaking comfort in the pursuit of beauty”. Every year for the past half dozen years or so, our family has taken a vacation to Deep Creek Lake which is located at the far Western tip of Maryland.
It’s a trip that, when we first started making it, I was doing it because I felt like I had to for my wife and daughter at the time. You see, I’m one of those folks who has a lot of trouble disconnecting. I shut my phone off once back in the late 90s and didn’t really like the feeling. Deep Creek isn’t the ideal place for someone like me, in that there really isn’t much in the way of 3G cell phone signals, and 4G is referred to up there in the same context as unicorns and the Loch Ness Monster.
But, I really did start to enjoy the trips. There’s really nothing in the way of chain hotels up this way, other than a pretty scary Motel 6 (there’s a Holiday Inn about 50 miles away). We’ve always stayed in a cottage and invite some other family and friends along. We spend most of the week out on a pontoon boat, tubing, knee boarding and enjoying the occasional beer or glass of wine. And, the last couple of years, I finally broke the habit of bringing my laptop onboard the boat to work. I did manage to work on my iPhone pretty well last year.
The house we stay at has aged over the years, and recently I had one of those classic nights that you’re unlikely to have staying in a Park Hyatt or St. Regis. I think we all venture off that beaten path of comfort from time to time, some more than others.
I’m something of a light sleeper but I think I was pretty well doomed on this night. My kids wanted to stay up late, playing with cousins and friends. It was way past their bedtime when we finally got them to start settling down. My wife and I divided and conquered, with me assuming responsibility for getting our daughter to sleep. Our kids were sharing a room with two twin beds.
Our parents were up late downstairs as well, enjoying themselves retelling stories of old in a tone of those that have lost a decent amount of their hearing. My daughter couldn’t get to sleep so I had to ask them a couple times to quiet down. She got up at one point to come find me as I implored them to talk just a bit quieter.
At around 11 both kids were finally asleep. I tried unsuccessfully to wake my wife up, who had crashed hard in a twin bed with our son. I gave up and went to lay down in our bed. We used to take a bedroom with a king-sized bed on the main floor but in an effort to be nearer to our youngest child, we took a smaller bed upstairs, which also was way past comfort level. One person in this bed was slightly workable, though my back doesn’t cooperate enough with me as I’ve aged.
When my wife came in a bit later on in the evening, two wasn’t better than one for the springs that were left in the bed. My wife and I slowly sunk to the middle of the bed and the peak of discomfort. Even with that, I was still exhausted enough from a long day that I fell back into a fitful sleep.
Shortly thereafter, our daughter crept into the room, upset and looking for a parent to snuggle with. Three wouldn’t be company on that mattress, so I asked Catherine which parent she wanted to sleep with. She rightfully chose Mommy, and I set off for her twin bed in the room she was sharing with her brother.
As soon as I opened the door to our bedroom I was assailed with an undefinable noise. You love family, even if you don’t want to spend time with them sometimes, and this was my father-in-law. I’ve always heard he had a snoring issue, but I really can’t make this up. He sounded like a horse galloping through the breeze with it’s lips flapping. Since they were positioned right beside our kid’s room, I knew I wouldn’t be getting any sleep there.
That left finding a couch. I headed down to the main floor of the house as the clock marched towards 2am. I found my cousin, her husband and my father still up talking. Obviously, they’re not sleeping sissies like me, able to survive on less than 8 hours of sleep.
I remembered that the windows in that room opened up onto a sunrise with no blinds, and sought out the lower level of the house and one last couch. There was a sliding door down there that didn’t have any blinds on it, and the outside lights were on. I pulled a few cushions off the back of the sofa to give me some additional room and threw a pillow over my head to block the light. Thus begun my uncomfortable dance with a more uncomfortable couch. As time passed and night became day, the sun came up over the hill and through the sliding glass door, embracing me shortly after 6am with the start of what could only be described as a very tired day.
As I came upstairs and greeted one of our friends while the rest of the house slept quietly, we remarked how beautiful the fog was setting on top of the lake like a warm, fluffy blanket wrapping everything in its arms.
It was a rough road to get there, but the view made up for at least some, if not necessarily all, of the grief to get there.