While driving from the airport to northern Wisconsin with my mom a couple of weeks ago, I realized I hadn't been to my cabin in two whole years. This is insane to me, because I used to spend almost every weekend of the summer there as a kid. Alas, it's true: I didn't visit at all during my first summer living in California, and even though I was home multiple times this summer, I was so busy that I hadn't had the chance to take the two-hour drive north until now.
But as we turned into the gravel driveway and I caught my first glimpse of the lake, followed by the familiar steep hill down to the cabin's front door where my dad's trusty old Toyota 4Runner was parked in its same old familiar spot, I realized that despite my time away, not much had changed. The raft was still there; the slightly crooked plank walkway leading down to the dock; the catamaran with its rainbow sail; the sweet smell of lake water and grass.
The only major difference is that now the outside of the cabin is painted brown instead of its original blue-with-red-trim, a decision I opposed wholeheartedly from a distance, but which my mother followed through on anyway (I grudgingly admitted that the brown color looked nice, but then reminded my mom in the least threatening way possible that someday she will be gone, and when that day comes, my brother and I will restore our cabin to its former glory).
As a surprise bonus for me, our family friends Mark and Cindy were at the cabin with my parents for their annual Labor Day weekend visit, which means that I got to catch up with them and didn't have to feel so bad about missing out on our tradition of staying at their house in Duluth for the Bayfront Blues Festival each August. It felt like the good old days, and though I was sad that I was only able to stay one night, I reminded myself that I was lucky I got the chance to be there at all. And now I know that no matter how much time passes, my old log cabin will be there waiting for me, semi-suspended in time and filled with happiness, memories, and most importantly, evening boat rides around the lake with people that I love.