My reign as an underachieving vacationer continues. We grocery shopped, played with Henry, played with Henry some more, watched him sleep, and tried to let Pat and Rachel grab a little R and R. Then I was all sad when Henry was buckled in his car seat and returned to his urban lair. I will not see him for 2 weeks, and in that time, he will morph into even less of an infant and more of a baby. Sigh.
We bought this place when Matt was 2 months old, just about Henry’s age. I guess the reality that vacation would be a relocation of our chaos, but not a break, dawned upon us. We were headed to see a cottage in South Haven on our way to Detroit to see my folks. Matt fussed, we pulled off so I could nurse him, and the next thing you know, we were touring a condo complex. It seemed so much easier than worrying about another house.
We had rocks in our heads. Steve had been fired from WDAI, and the LOOP. WLS AM was unwilling to let him have Larry Lujack’s evacuated perch. We were headed for the second round of the Loop- first FM, then AM, then WMVP. There was very little stability in our budget or our lives. We had just bought a new home in Western Springs. We left our Victorian money pit, which we loved but could not stay on top of with 3 little boys. I sensed that I needed a basement, not a cellar, if they were to live to adolescence.
How could we even consider two concurrent mortgages? What youthful delusion or confidence allowed us to strap on this obligation? Yet we did. For 26 years, the decision nourished us.
Enforced togetherness is a recipe for memories, good and bad. Our memories are glue that binds us together. As much as familial love allows us to fight with passion and confidence, we close ranks if someone outside of our circle menaces any Dahl. This unanimity was fostered by time together here in Harbor Country.
Many of the kids’ memories do not mesh with my more idyllic recollections. They tell stories of leaping from the second floor bedroom to sneak to the candy store. They had to do this because we had installed hook and eye locks on their bedroom to enforce “time outs.” Steve remembers Pat plunging Mike into the pool in his umbrella stroller. Sibling rivalry flourished in the “bunk house”. By that I mean fist fights, harsh words and endless ridicule.
Being the Pollyanna, I remember the adventures: The boys rode go karts at Captain Mike’s, ran out of gas in a dingy on the water snake-filled Galien River, ate burgers at Redamack’s and washed them down with so much red soda that they had ruby moustaches. On rainy days we would point the mini van to Marquette Mall, biding our time eating corn dogs. We would make fires on the beach, roast marshmallows and try to ignore the grit as we ate s’mores. Yes, we sang Kumbaya. Steve cringed, then disappeared into the lakeside darkness.
Today Steve and I hit Marquette Mall to restock his GNC mega vitamins. Now it is a ghost town, with more store fronts empty than inhabited. Sears, Penney’s and Carson’s anchor the space, and I doubt if many feet ever touch the mall. It is a casualty of the Lighthouse Point outlet mall, where bargains are snapped up by busloads of tourists, casino escapees, and day trippers. It is my time wasting destination on a bad day. A bargain is a bargain.
There are a million Dahl memories in boarded up abandoned restaurants and stores. Time moves on, relentlessly. There is no benefit to recalling thePub in Michigan City, or the Beachside Inn, or the Country Store. We had fabulous meals at Miller’s, and loved the Dairy Queen for Peanut Buster Parfaits. Lake Effect was an education and an adventure. Panozzo’s served a fabulous breakfast, and was kid friendly.
The good news is that we are making new traditions and harvesting fresh memories. Mike proposed to Kathryn at Stop 50, and Henry has been out to dinner there twice. Stray Dog is a happy joint, and is open late for those of us on Central time. Redamack’s remains a tradition, as does Oink’s for ice cream. The Four Winds Casino is open all night for the insomniac Steve. (That prevents midnight runs to Meijer’s.) Mike had his bachelor party in Harbor Country, while Kathryn did a wine tour with her bridesmaids. We can walk to the Bentwood Tavern for a coffee or a cocktail.
We have never been the most ambitious vacationers, and yet we have an archive of memories. It doesn’t take a country estate to anchor our sunny days. Just 1500 square feet of condo, sweet condo. The locks are off the bedroom doors, the escapees’ footprints have faded from the siding, but the heart of Harbor Country still beats intensely within the Dahl Clan. There will be many more weekend adventures. With grand dogs and grandkids, we will be stuffed to capacity. I cannot wait.
I am glad that a 32 year old Steve dwelled in possibilities and took the leap of faith to bring us here. I am grateful that we could stay, through the roller coaster of a radio career. This is a place of peace, love and family. That is why I kidnapped Steve for this week. We are renewing our appreciation for each other and for our life. And I am trying really hard to make it seamless……
BUT- my car window fell into the door today. More tomorrow. Sunset beckons. Pork chops on the grill. A dog walk. Bachelor Pad. Did I say that?
Anyhow- a few more pictures were added today to my scrapbook. Feel free to come visit me.