There was a time, when I was maybe 14-15 that I ran away from home. I just wasn’t happy with what was going on around me and I needed some new space. I ran about a mile up the road to a deserted barn and camped in the hay mow. My dad picked me up after work the next day and I went back home. I don’t remember him being mad… I think he told me not to do that again but not much else was said. But that was kind of the norm where I grew up. Just don’t rock the boat too much. My sleeping in the barn down the road was likely looked upon as not being too heinous a crime.
I hadn’t thought about that in years. But I did pop back into my head on this recent road trip. I’m still running away from home.
And I’m still not doing anything too dramatic, although the digs this trip were decidedly nicer than an abandoned barn. But I just needed to be somewhere different… do something different and I especially needed the ocean. Or as my friend Carol calls it, the F Ocean (fake ocean) otherwise known as Lake Erie.
It seems I’m a “water person” and when I don’t dip my tootsies and the rest of me into large bodies of water, something in me just shrivels up. I was in Costa Rica for a month earlier this year but I didn’t get to see the ocean. Seemed okay at the time. But here I am about 6 months later and a friend shares with me her learned opinion, “You’re depressed!” Well, yes, I guess I am. And to those of you who really battle with Serious BigTime Depression, you have my deepest respect. I don’t get that swallowed up by the darkness, I’m just off and stalled and sad and tired and overwhelmed and frustrated. But I do go on.
So, I thought, perhaps I need to just give myself a break, a treat, some away-ness. So on Sunday I headed north on Rt 44 and didn’t stop until there was sand and water in front of me. I played at Headlands beach for a bit. I layed in the sun soaking up a bit of heat and Vitamin D. Then I thought… now what? I had a rental in Grand River about 20 minutes south but didn’t really want to just lay on this beach for 2 more days. So… listening to my intuition, which is always a bit brighter than I, I realize there must be tons of beaches along this coast line. Perhaps I should explore. So the next morning I head east on some freeway and end up in Conneaut. I turn left towards water and again… I found it. Since it was Monday, I had the beach mostly to myself. Played a bit, swam a bit, gathered a few rocks. Then got back in the car. As I left the parking lot, I notice a small sign boasting “Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail” by the road with an arrow suggesting I go that way. I did. How incredibly cool that was.
It took me most of the day to wend my way to Fairport Harbor making numerous stops at beaches and parks. There is no big city between Conneaut and Fairport Harbor. Well, maybe Ashtabula might argue but I only saw their little old downtown by the lake (which is by the way, really cool with wonderful shops and great food and coffee). What I did find was a lot of small (some teeny) communities but all had at least a community park. Every small town has a gathering place for celebrations and picnics, but when you’re a small town on the coast of Lake Erie, your community park has a beach. I saw lots of beaches. I swam in Lake Erie a lot. Sometimes there was a playground and a picnic pavilion in sight and sometimes not a soul was anywhere nearby. I sat on a tree that had fallen in the surf for the longest time on a deserted beach, then stood on it (thank you yoga for balance) dove in and swam.
I found camping. I found an incredibly large stone sculpted sun dial. I found lots of trails to hike. I found ice cream and I found water… gorgeous water and lots of sand. It’s not the sea… the water is fresh and I was hard pressed to find a shell (but there are a few). But there is surf and great skipping stones, sun and sand and peace. Oh, there’s seagulls too… they fraternize with the Canadian geese, but I’m not telling.
So if you’re feeling the need for sea… and your budget says, “Well, no” then check out my dear friend Lake Erie and you don’t really have to pretend too much. After all, she is connected to the sea and really quite amazing in her own right.