I’ve reached it. The limit. My limit. Our limit. The frost on my lawn and my breath stuck in the air, all of it is too much. Our taxes are going up, our stocks might be going down, and my son’s college application process was difficult because we decided that honesty would be the best policy (Why yes, Dartmouth, my son is super passionate about hieroglyphic prose). It’s impossible to find someone to build a deck, or paint a fence, or renovate your terrible master bathroom. It’s impossible to have a garage built, or buy a boat. Want a garage? See you next year, maybe. If we pay people to sit at home, or so our experiment goes, we’ll end up with a lot of people sitting at home. The world has gone mad and we’re leading the way, and there’s frost on my lawn and weeds poking up through my fresh asphalt and everything is terrible. Oh and that vaccine doesn’t mean you can actually start living your life again, but now I’m just piling on.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s really what this place and market is all about. Is this a market for fancy rich folks who wish to flaunt their wealth? Not really, but I’m sure some people think of this place in that way. I’ve come to view it all in a different light, especially now that insanity rules the day. Maybe people aren’t really up here to flaunt and flash and splash in our very nice fish bowl. Maybe this place isn’t about any of that. Maybe it’s just a place where people come to forget about all of the rest of their nonsense for a while. Maybe it’s just an afternoon, maybe it’s every weekend, or maybe, when Corona was especially pronounced, it was for the whole summer or a whole year. Maybe Lake Geneva isn’t here to indulge fancy people, maybe it’s just a place where people run to when times are weird or tough or otherwise uncomfortable. Maybe this is just a retreat from the woes of a normal life.
In that, it is indeed a treat. A place to run when life overwhelms. A place to hide when the cities feel unsafe. Yes, it’s a place to jump on your expensive boat and pull up to a mediocre lakeside restaurant and enjoy the trappings of your success, but maybe that pursuit isn’t looking to display wealth, it’s just looking to enjoy it. My dad is an interesting guy, and as we both age I continue to learn from him by watching what he does and how he does it and then often deciding that I might be better off doing things a slightly different way. My dad is old now, objectively so, and there’s a pronounced and dominant issue in his life. My dad spent his whole life worrying about money and about bills and about retirement and about responsibility, and in that, he has been a success. But the problem with developing such a responsible mindset is that it’s unclear how one can ever transition from the pursuit to actual and pure rest. My dad has worked so hard for so long that he is incapable of enjoying the things he worked for. This is a common affliction, to be sure. But maybe the whole idea of this place is that we give the hard working among us a break from their labor. Maybe this place isn’t about fantasy and luxury, but instead it’s about little more than balance.
It’s easy to judge Lake Geneva based on its outward appearance. I have a distant family member who no longer visits this place because he deemed it a place too fancy for him. He disliked the displays of wealth and the finely manicured lawns and the low rumble of a wooden boat embarking on a sunset cruise. What he failed to understand is that the boats and the houses and the cars and the gardens aren’t necessarily the result of boastful pride. They’re often times, rather simply, just the result of hard work and an important piece in the owner’s quest for an escape. Life is overwhelming, but it is better at the lake.