My husband grew up spending much of the summer at the family’s cabin. It was always part of the rhythm of his family. His dad worked in the public schools and his mom worked at a college so they had the majority of their summers off from work. This allowed them to spend weeks, sometimes a whole month, up north.
He was one of those golden boys of summer, the ones who were athletic, outdoorsy, as comfortable on water skis or a sailboat as they were on land. One of those who caused an ache in my chest as I watched from the shoreline. He still is that golden boy, just more grown up.
He’s always helped his dad with various chores around the cabin, the biggest project being management of the wooden dock. I had no idea of the magnitude of dock management because I didn’t grow up going to a cabin. In the spring the water tends to be high, meaning that the dock needs to be almost at the tippytop of the posts. As summer goes on and water levels go down, the dock need to be lowered so it isn’t two feet above the top of the water. Then there’s the huge task of getting the dock into the water in the first place, and the job of taking it out of the water at the end of the season.
It was during the annual dock removal a few years ago that my husband lost his wallet. It fell out of his pocket and out of the waders he wore to make the water temperature more comfortable (or at least allowing him to still feel his extremities).
He didn’t know it was lost until a few hours later. When he realized it, he was already on the drive back home, which at the time was more than four hours from the cabin. He got by for a week until he could drive all the way back up north, pull on the clumsy waders and search the lake bottom for the wallet. He knew where he’d been working, so he thought it would be easy to find.
He eventually gave up, left it for the fish, drove back home and replaced the wallet and its contents.
That’s No Sunny
Fast forward five years.
The lost wallet is forgotten.
The IDs, credit card, business cards and miscellaneous wallet-y items have been replaced.
We are up at the cabin at the end of a dry summer. The dock has been lowered twice as the water receaded, and my husband and my father-in-law are working to move out the boat lift. The motor on the boat drags against sandy lake bottom even when partially raised and the boat lift needs to be deeper. Refreshing coolness in the heat of summer, their wrenches work against screws, twisting them to comply, make-shift levers and cinder blocks, the scent of metal, gasoline, pine trees and lake water. Cabin.
My husband’s high arch brushes up against something in the sand, something not a pumpkin seed sunfish. Waist deep, six foot pole in hand, his curiosity fishes out the item.
His lost wallet.
Five years later, he finds it.
My Own Lost Wallet
There are times when I feel like writing is my lost wallet.
The business of having a child every two years (they’re now 5, 7 and 9) took all my attention. I was all in, being either pregnant or nursing for the majority of seven+ years straight. Getting dishes into the dishwasher, making sure kids got enough iron and calcium and tummy-time and large muscle development took up all my brain space. My husband and friends helped me through my moments of feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, sure I was ruining the kids, one minute protecting them too much, the next minute letting them do to much, wanting them to know it was okay to fail at things.
There were things in the wallet we had forgotten about. An old picture, a business card from someone met in an airport, a list of old passwords. Much of the information was outdated, addresses had changed, personal information had changed, our family had expanded. Finding the wallet was finding something that had once been valuable, that had once been necessary and held important weight in my husband’s back pocket. Had he functioned without it? Yes. He was able to order a new driver’s license, replacement insurance cards. It would have been easier had it not dropped out of his waders and into the lake, but it didn’t stop his life from moving forward.
That’s much like writing has been for me.
I’ve been writing my whole life in one way or another. Even when I was pursuing a career outside the home unrelated to writing, the words were still there, still a part of everything I did, even if that was a peripheral responsibility. My life moved forward with no consideration of writing or how that fit into things.
The past four years have been a process of rediscovery.
I don’t know why it happened when it did.
I don’t know where it will lead, if it even leads anywhere external.
It doesn’t have to.
My journey of going by feel, digging around in the sand with my feet, bumping into something unexpected, grasping and unearthing something definite has brought me great joy and creative expression. It has allowed me to organize my thoughts, to speak aloud my observations and questions, to “verbalize” my journey and encourage others on their journey.
Sometimes when you find something you lost, you remember how valuable it once was. And in the intermediate time, it can become even more valuable, like a well-aged wine or lost coin. So even though it might be a little waterlogged, I’m drying out this writing wallet and reclaiming something that has always held value,
It just got lost for a while.
Do you have any passions that you had to lay aside for a season? What were those passions, and do you see yourself rediscovering them in the future? In what way do you express yourself creatively?