Conventional wisdom says “we can never go back”. We yearn for our glory days when we were on top of the world in high school or college, and try to hang out with the same friends at the same places, but those times just cannot be recreated. We wish we could restore the magic of the early stages of a relationship, but time has a way of making permanent scratches and dents in the body of the pairing that can never be restored to its former luster no matter how much we try. Change is the thing we can always count on.
Seventeen years ago, my husband and I built a magnificent home on a beautiful, private lake about an hour from our full time residence. The idea was to have a nearby family vacation place for us to enjoy with our young sons and our extended family and friends. It was a log home and came to be known as “the cabin”. This was a bit of a misnomer because it had 5 bedrooms and three bathrooms with a fabulous kitchen that was designed to look old, but was totally modern. It was heated with propane gas and had a gas fireplace, as well, with the idea of enjoying the home year round. We installed a large dock on the lake for swimming, fishing, canoeing, sunbathing and kayaking. Our sons were 2 and 4 years old. The house next door belonged to a couple from New York City who were parents to five year old twin girls.
When the boys were little, they spent most of their waking hours running all over with the girls next door. While they were still so young, this led to a reasonable bed time for them, and my husband and I could enjoy a relaxing evening. In the early years I was somewhat limited activity wise because I had suffered a stroke while I was pregnant with my second son and was left with a motor control issue. At first, it was quite depressing to watch our guests swim and do the things I dreamed of doing when we bought the property before I became disabled. I still enjoyed relaxing in the house or on the deck looking at the lake. We entertained our parents, my brother-in-law and his first wife and their two kids who were near our kids’ ages. Both of my brothers and my sister were also frequent guests. We often hosted guests from around the country and even around the world.
I slowly but surely made a dramatic recovery from my injury, but am left with a permanent disability. I can swim using a personal floatation device. When I have help, I can get into a canoe or kayak. There were many large weekend parties for friends since we could accommodate more than eight overnight guests.
As I recovered, I became more involved in decorating the house. My husband was much more engaged in the early stages because he used it as an escape from life at home which was rather dismal for the first few years when I first became disabled and we had a newborn and a two year old.
During one shopping trip at a local antiques store, I insisted we buy a rustic looking sign in a log motif that said “Love Shack”. The house was not a shack by any strech of the imagination, but I liked the idea of it being a place that was all about love since it was built with friends and family in mind. I envisioned a long future at the cabin with my husband into old age a la “On Golden Pond”. It was a rare occasion when my husband and I could be at the cabin alone together. Sometimes the kids stayed with grandparents or friends for a weekend.
When our kids became teenagers, they resisted going away with us for the weekend as their lives became all about their friends at home. We often had their friends come along as an incentive to get them to go to our idyllic lake home for a weekend long party.
The cabin was a fantastic getaway place for our friends and family for fourteen years. My husband decided he wanted to separate in 2015, and moved into the cabin. I stayed in the marital home with our sons. I am still entitled to enjoy the family vacation home so normally we switch houses every other weekend so my husband has a chance to be with our sons, and I can enjoy the lake.
The weird part of it is that the cabin has morphed from a family gathering place to a real “Love Shack” where my husband has romantic weekends with his girlfriend, and I do the same with my boyfriend. Our sons just about never go because I think it is too uncomfortable for them to adapt to the change in atmosphere.
I often think back to the age of innocence when our kids were little and we were an intact family with a fabulous place to be together and enjoy life. My in-laws have passed away, my brother-in-law got divorced, his wife moved to Arizona with their kids, my sister moved to North Carolina, my parents are in their 80’s, and not as healthy as they used to be. I am saddened to know that we “can never go back”.