Everyone needs a place to soothe their soul.
When I was three, my family went to Cooperstown, New York for the induction of Steve Carlton.
We have gone every year since – this year will be our 25th induction. We stay at this remote resort on the outskirts of Cooperstown called Fieldstone Farm. It’s in the middle of nowhere – nothing but farms, rolling hills and trees. It has the most breathtaking view and the kindest people around. Over the twenty four years we’ve gone, we’ve become incredibly close to other families that vacation around the same time. Now the trip is less about the induction and more about a family reunion with friends that became family. Of course there are visits to the induction, hall of fame and local stores, but the trip has many other traditions. As kids, the sprawling land was perfect to run around. My parents could sit on the porch and watch us run around the expansive hilltop. We spent most of the day either begging our parents to let us go to the bottom of the hill where our friends stayed, or being distracted with a day trip or game so we would stop asking. As older kids, we spent our days playing Wiffle ball and the evenings playing flashlight tag. The teen years brought golfing for my brother and numerous trips into the town candy store for me with manhunt at night. As adults, we’ve witnessed Ommegang brewery go from a small shed to a thriving business, enjoy sipping a drink on the back porch of the Otesaga Hotel and usually stay at home in the evening mixing drinks and sitting on someone’s porch, catching up on the past year.
While the trip is mostly about spending time with my family and friends, it’s also one of the few places that relaxes my bones. One of my favorite things to do is make myself a breakfast sandwich and coffee then sit out on our porch eating and reading. Always barefoot, and always questioning if it’s too hot to sit outside. At some point, I’ll be joined by a family member or neighbor and forget about the book that I’m reading. Something about the views there, the Coors lights we drink, and the people who have known me my whole life stops time and brings it all back. I switch between thinking about absolutely nothing and replaying memories of my childhood.
At night I love to venture outside and sit under the stars. The stars are so vivid up there, you’d think you were in a planetarium. I’ve always loved the stars and I credit that to Cooperstown. Since you’re at the top of an incredibly large hill, it looking like the universe is endless. I love laying down and just staring, my mind completely blank (which isn’t an easy task.)
I think everyone needs somewhere to rest their bones. While Cooperstown is my main squeeze, there have been a variety of places over my life.
As a kid, I loved my neighbor’s backyard. We were well-behaved kids, so I never got in trouble wandering back there. I was obsessed with the Boxcar Children and would pack a full backpack like I was going on an adventure. After a few knocks on my neighbor’s door went unanswered, I shrugged it off and had a solo adventure. I would eat mulberries off her tree, stopped to say hi to her rabbits in their cages then head to the back of her yard where there was a patch of woods about five feet wide. We created a clubhouse back there with whatever treasures we could find in our neighborhood. I’d go to the apartment complex on the other side of the woods and grab scraps of metal or old rugs and bring them back to our clubhouse. I’d spend some time patting down the dirt and sprucing up the place until I was bored. I’d then leave and make it back to her front yard where there was a giant maple tree. I’d sit under the maple tree’s shade, take out my snack and book, and read until I got too hot. Even as a kid, I valued my peaceful and quiet time. I enjoyed the unexpected me time that I could spend with my thoughts.
After my dad died, we would go on little trips to get away for the weekend. Going to Cape May was my favorite getaway. It would usually be around October or November, which were the months where every anniversary related to my dad fell. We’d drive and drive and drive until we made it to Exit 0 where we quite literally couldn’t drive anymore. Since it was the off-season, it was desolate. We would walk on the empty beaches and boardwalk until it was too cold and we had to retreat into a pub to warm up with lunch. I loved the feeling of being on the edge of the nation. Being next to the ocean and not being able to go any further. In a time where I was constantly wanting to run away from my current situation, this was as close as I could get.
A few years after college, I found the fourth place that quieted my soul in Topanga, California.
My writing partner found an Airbnb a couple years ago nestled in Topanga’s mountains when we went to Los Angeles and I fell in love with it. We hiked up a random trail and watched a violet and fuchsia sunset take over the sky. The next year I returned and spent an entire night talking to good friends on the top of a mountain, drinking white wine next to a vineyard. After a few hours of sleeping in a tent, we hiked through Red Rock Canyon Park and I could have died from being so at peace. I still keep the photos from the mountaintop on my phone because it was so breathtaking, it calms me down even when I’m far away.
Finally, my local peaceful spot is at Montrose Harbor.
I live a few blocks away and the best way to shake off my day and put my mind at ease is to walk down to the lake after work until it gets too dark. I love walking out on the dock and seeing the view of the city I love so much in front of me. I go there when I need to think, or rather stop thinking and instead just appreciate my city and life. I took my mom on a long walk there before my last surgery and found solace in the crashing waves and chilly air. I love walking along the ledge listening to contemporary folk – You + Me, James Taylor, Lyle Lovett.. etc. After a long walk around there, it’s hard for me to stay upset, or afraid, or whatever other emotion I went there to ease off.
I love my fast paced city life. I enjoy my busy schedule and high expectations. But every now and then, I love drifting off to one of my places to recharge and rest my bones.