I’m drawn to water. My freshman year at Northwestern University I’d walk alone by the lake in Evanston, thinking big thoughts. Our dorm was on the north side of campus, and the building closest to the water, so you could walk out the door and be on the beach in mere minutes. Before the weather got cold, I could walk barefoot and see my footprints behind me, before they were washed away. It made me wonder how many other young students came out there before me, leaving their own temporary mark.
I looked to the lake for answers when I was trying to figure out what my major would be. When I found out about a special workshop for writers within the English major, I longed to be part of it. I agonized, too, because you needed to submit a story to be considered for the program. It was agony waiting to find out if I’d gotten in, and I’d stand on the shore determined not to want it too much. So I went for a celebratory walk the day I got good news, and was certain my future had started to unfold.
Shippan Point was a peninsula extending into the Long Island Sound, and I chose it as a new home when I first moved to Connecticut for my first job. I liked knowing I had water on three sides of me. On quiet Sunday mornings, I’d go for a walk and pass fancy sailboats that had docked at the Rusty Scupper for brunch. Home seemed even further away than usual in the early hours, but the water felt familiar.
Back in Chicago, I associated the first signs of springtime with a drive up Lake Shore on my way home from work. My office was on Michigan Avenue, and a first warm evening in spring, bikers, and boaters and runners appeared out of nowhere, just like the daffodils and tulips that catch me off guard every year.
So it’s not really any surprise that my new place is walking distance from Creve Coeur Lake. There’s something peaceful, even poetic, about the early morning skulls going by with crew members rowing in unison, especially when they’re far away enough that you don’t even hear the dip of their oars. And sunsets over the water are so beautiful, you’d swear the rays cast a hue that's a different color than anywhere else in the city. I went for a run by the water early Easter morning, not long after sun had come up, and the effect on me was a feeling of utter calm and a union with all that surrounded me—it affected me more strongly even than the Easter services I attended later that morning, two of them.