It was once said there there are two things common to each life: Death and taxes. This isn’t entirely true. While those two things are indeed constants, other things that are constants include, but are not limited to, overwhelming regret after ordering the shrimp tacos at the Red Lobster in Peru, Illinois, and a once annual trip to the Verizon store after donating a phone to the depths of Geneva Lake. I did both over the weekend, in that order.
Saturday morning, I had the unnatural experience of traveling south, into Illinois. On a Saturday. This is the opposite path that should generally be taken by anyone looking to accomplish anything fun over any particular weekend, but this was what I did, because I had to. I had a wedding to attend, and so I drove down I90 and then I39 before turning west on I80 and ending up at the Lutheran Church on the Hill- the church that my parents’ were married in, the church with the plot to the East of it that my grandparents are buried in. The wedding was small, and it was effective, and when it was over I drove East quickly towards Joliet. I stopped at Red Lobster, because why not, and I ordered the tacos. Regret filled the air from the moment I uttered the order until the moment that I walked to the car.
I soldiered on, driving East and wondering why I didn’t order the Admiral Platter, towards the city and towards the south suburbs that I have never been to because I had never had reason. I drove in I80 and then I55 and then 294. When I cut across on Willow to Sheridan Road I had to stop at Trout and Grouse, and stashed a stack of magazines inside the Whole Foods. Pressing on, I drove to Winnetka, to the Caribou Coffee, and I stacked a few more magazines without asking there too. And it was then, as I drove North on Sheridan Road, twisting through the grounds where the wealthy live, that I thought something amiss. I noticed lots and lots of cars in driveways. I noticed lots of people, walking, jogging, wandering. I noticed lawns being cut and driveways being swept, and I noticed men in golf shorts walking to their cars and women in summer dresses too. I wondered as I drove, who are these people?
And what are they doing here, on a Saturday? It was cute, really, these people setting about to enjoy their Saturday, apparently oblivious to the fact that a Saturday is so much easier to enjoy had they been doing so in Lake Geneva instead of in Illinois. Later, at dinner, the Lake Forest set was out dining and playing, with kids eating ice cream in parks and parents pushing strollers and others just walking, slowly, without anything in particular on the agenda. I thought about this now too, how this scene looked nice enough on the surface but how this scene could be so much easier and so much more fun if it were taking place in Lake Geneva. I wondered about these people near the Deer Path Inn, and when I left there I stashed some magazines on their counter as well, and drove home. North, into the calm darkness, home.
Sunday was cloudy-ish. It was cool, fall like, in the way that the past week has mostly been. But later in the day when the lake cleared and the wind stiffened, it was time to sail. Or, time for my son to sail. I pointed his Laser in the right direction and he was off, me in another boat chasing him down and alternating between complimenting him and screaming at him, though the screams were more a necessity because of the wind and the water and the fact that it’s hard to tell your son which line to grab when you yourself don’t know what the line is really called. Grab that one! No, the other one! The one that looks like it’s attached to the metal thingy with the clip on it! Not that one!
He sailed fast and he sailed straight, and his pride swelled along with mine. He tipped at one point, which meant I had to dive in to right the boat because his weight is not enough to pull the boat back upright and mine is more than enough. I dove in, and when I crawled back into the boat I pushed the throttle down to catch up to young Thomas as he skittered away with the wind. This is when I heard the slap of my phone against the swim platform. I slowed the boat and went to look, but I was not expecting the phone to be resting on the platform. The platform is plastic and the phone is glass, and traction is not a trait of either material. The phone had slipped from the back bench, onto the platform, and into the lake. A fitting end to a phone that had, for the past year, helped me introduce lots and lots of people to the lake, and an appropriate end to a weekend that found me once again, finally, back at the lake.