I wish I could visit you. I wish I could just come and visit and tell you just a few of the thousands of stories that made me who I am today.
I hope the walls still hold our laughter for you and, when you’re having a down kind of day, I hope their energy lifts you up. And when you look out the windows, I hope you sometimes imagine you’re in an alien spaceship drifting out into space. Or a pirate captain whose ship has been commandeered and he’s stuck in the cabin looking out at the water.
Mostly, I hope it’s as much of a home to you, as it was to me.
My family moved a lot growing up, but the one constant was this place – Grandpa’s Cabin.
I grew up here. I cried and laughed and read and danced and fought with my annoying brother so many times that I’ve long since lost track.
This place is the home to so many of our firsts… Our first time learning to play marbles. Our first time canoeing. Our first time going hunting with our dad. Our first time taking an all day bike ride. Our parents first divorce. Our first time living apart. Our first time taking the row boat, all on our own, out on the lake…
So many memories that I never want to forget.
Did you know that I caught the biggest catch here (it may or may not have involved an accident with a wild cast and my brother’s ear)? Or that my brother and I were attacked by a bunch of birds for getting too close to their nests, or that we played tag in every spot of the front yard. Or how we climbed on every tree in that backyard a thousand-and-one times, and we’d catch spiders by the shed and chase each other around until our little legs felt wobbly. Then we’d rest before doing it all over again.
This place is where we spent our summers and weekends. It’s where we grew up.
It’s where I played my favorite Matchbox 20 CD over and over and over again on my portable Walkman when I was day dreaming about my crush. It’s where my brother and I learned the art of compromise when he wanted to go fishing, but I wanted to go canoeing. It’s where I spent the best Father’s Day weekend of my life, because it was just me and my old man painting the cabin and sneaking sips from wine coolers.
It’s my childhood all wrapped up. It’s where my brother and I would always drive to when we were low. It’s the place we’d always write and talk about going. It was ours.
And now it’s the first place I go to whenever I want to be with my brother – my twin that was taken way too early from me.
I like to close my eyes and I imagine him sitting with me at the table or looking at me from the head of the boat. And I just talk to him. I tell him things. I ask him for his advice. Or, sometimes, I just let myself remember those precious memories. The ones that only he and I will ever truly share. Like how we always used the short glasses at Grandpa’s Cabin to pretend we were bartenders. He’d serve me and then I’d serve him and we’d make up bullshit little kid stories to shoot the breeze before sliding the glass down the table, and laughing as we hurried to clean up the evidence before our parents caught us pretending straight cranberry juice was beer at a bar.
Even now, years later, if my brother and I were to see a glass that looked similar, we’d give each other that look – the silent look of understanding. Maybe one of us would vocalize, “Remember at Grandpa’s Cabin…” but we always already knew.
That’s why this was the first place I mentally ran to to get away when my brother was murdered. It was the only place I could go to that had his smiling face at every corner. It was the place we ventured to a year before when Blake had a day off of work and we wanted to show his first-born son where we grew up. It’s the place where we made up games because dad or mom wouldn’t let us leave the yard. And it’s the place where we learned to associate the smell of cut grass with dad’s perfect lawn-mowing designs.
It’s all of our childhood rolled up in one plot of land.
And I hope this cabin becomes that safe haven for you, too. I hope you look at it with fondness. With excitement and a sense of adventure. I hope it brings you so many of the dreams that it brought to me and my brother.
Mostly, I hope you know that this was a place of love. So, so much love.
And one day, maybe I will stop in for a visit. And maybe you will invite me in. Maybe I’ll laugh and cry like I did as a child surrounded by these very same walls.
But, until then, I hope you make this cabin a home again.