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the places we love

the places we love - by Andrea Hurley

by Andrea | July, 2015

I am sitting on the front porch of our family cottage on Lake George, one of my favorite places in the world. It is a place where I feel so deeply at home that I often can't find that line where it ends and I begin. At the very same time it also feels ever new, with an innocence of seeing something or someplace for the very first time—a constant paradox, that only makes sense to the heart. Ever since I was a kid this lake has gripped me on this deep soul level. It feels like somewhere inside there are memories upon memories, some mine, some others, some as fresh as if from yesterday, and others having slipped far away, perhaps never again to be retrieved. 

Memories upon memories, going back—way back—long before my time. 

When we love a place that much, and allow our heart to be that wide open, it is as if we can sense into a greater whole where the imaginary (but all too real) boundary defining who we think we are disappears. In this, we may not be so sure of who we are anymore. We may discover that we are not what we think, and may even have a chance to become someone new, someone even happier. 

As deeply at peace and happy as this place so often makes me feel, there is also a sadness here that is difficult to understand. It does not feel like a sadness of hurtful things that have happened, although I'm sure these memories upon memories hold plenty of hurtful things. But this sadness, which I have felt all my life, feels more like a calling or a longing from the past itself. A past that longs to be seen and to be known. It is as though all the lives that have come through this place are still alive and present in some essential way. As if that moment of falling-in-love when seeing this lake for the first time still hovers in the air. I wonder if this is what the inexplicable sadness is all about. That feeling of so much love that I can barely contain it. So much love that it sometimes hurts. 

I'm here alone for a few days, just me and my little dog. I'm working on my laptop on this great big porch. The sounds of the birds seem so amplified here. The slightly earthy smell of wetlands, so present in the Adirondack air. Even though my mother is not here with me now, she'll be here with me in 2 weeks time, a time for her to take all of this in. Despite my mother's initial preference for the ocean over 60 years ago, my dad's love of this lake got her here every summer, with their tribe of 9 kids in tow. Over time this place grew on my mother—and now, at 97-years old, it is an incredibly deep part of her. There is probably not a day that goes by when she doesn't look forward to her summer weeks here. I think about how much my dad loved this place, and how in some beautiful way I continue to connect with him here. I imagine my mother and siblings do too. Connect through our mutual love of this lake, a love that never dies. 

"On the great porch" with my mother and my husband, BobAnd so for me to bring my mother here for 2 or 3 weeks every summer is one of the highlights of my year. Just to see her on her great porch, taking it all in, being held by a love that is overflowing in the moment, but also including the past, perhaps even the future. Her presence here is surely contributing to a future richer in love, where someone, someday, just might stumble upon a sadness, and feel into that tender spot of the places we love.

Yes. The places we love hold more than we could ever know or fully comprehend. They are vast containers of love, sadness, tenderness and celebration. I wonder, if places could talk, what would they say? Generation after generation, memory upon memory, what would they say? I wonder, if this great big house could talk, what would it say? What memories does it hold from long before my time? From long before my family became its inhabitants? Or even long before it was built, waiting for what was to come? What would it say?

What will it say going forward? What memories will be contributed—by my mother, myself, my family or any of you lake lovers out there—to it's ever expanding container of love? 

the places we love

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