I didn't make it up to Vermont this year, so instead I went to New Hampshire. There was some significance to the trip, because I used to go there often as a kid with my family. I recall us going from Black & White TVs, The Beatles and walking on the Moon... to Space Invaders, Asteroids and The Ramones. I had a great family. My brothers showed me life as it could be when I got older. They set good examples, if I chose to follow them, or perhaps did something similar, but somehow in my own way. Guidelines to being a decent human being.
Vacations in New Hampshire meant swimming, water skiing, boating, the lapping waves from the Mount Washington cruise ship that would go by daily (more on that later), and the little cottage we all would stay in. As I got older I discovered girls, and that presented an interesting situation, as I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Not even back home, and certainly not in New Hampshire, where everybody talked funny, but I was the one with the weird accent (according to them). Girls in bikinis could be quickly forgiven, as I tried to figure out their Boston slang.
Later in my teens, I became a musician and by the time I was 18, I developed a little confidence, finding it slightly easier to meet people and feel comfortable with myself. I still operated at a hyper level, and could not quite settle down, but if I was able to make people laugh, and then maybe bring my guitar and get them to sing songs by The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Skynyrd, then I was starting to finally fit in.
My favorite memories were by myself playing Pinball in the old arcades - which were now located on the other side of the lake at Weirs Beach. In more recent years: I was working in a band that started playing on the Mount Washington, so now I was getting paid to perform on the boat I used to see go by as a kid. I would play pinball for hours upon hours in between gigs, and especially the older machines made me happy and nostalgic for the pre-video game days.
So as it was, I had some free time at the end of this summer, and some leftover arcade tokens. I went back. Found a sweet beachside motel unit on the cheap, right next to the last cottage we rented.
Back to that wonderful view.
Back to that wonderful time.
The last few years there were very different. My brothers had moved away, and no longer went on the vacation. I was often alone, which I didn't mind. Our age groups were so that we had our own friends. But now the girls I used to hang out with up there were gone too. Family things had come up with them, and their summer priorities changed. Finding myself alone again for the first time in 30 years put me back into a place I knew. It wasn't all loneliness in that stillness, but a little bit of calm that I found. I was okay then, and I would be okay again. I just had to remind myself of that. Perhaps this was the reason I returned. Not to share it with others, but maybe to have a little closure.
One of the lines Stegner wrote in Angle of Repose was, "They say you can't go home again, although I've done it, as I have here, but it gets less likely."
I have indeed done it, and it does get less likely.