Every year as autumn approaches, there’s a sense of excitement and tension in the air. It’s more than the changing leaves, the cooler air, the anticipation of the season.
It’s a feeling that started at a young age when the school year was looming, and one that hasn’t quite gone away as I’ve grown into adulthood. The feeling that the wheels are starting to turn, that the speed of life is about to pick up a bit, and that you better hold on tight so you don’t fall off the tracks.
It’s my favorite time of year, but it’s here and gone in a flash. If you don’t take time to stop amidst the chaos – pause for a moment, breathe in the fall air, enjoy time with friends, appreciate this season of life – suddenly the cold sets in, winter comes and autumn has passed you by.
This year, I welcomed fall with the ultimate pause.
Laura, Lou, Kelsey, Michelle, Sam, Jacque, Nicolette and me: eight girls, all from different hometowns, but bonded together by our faith and Cincinnati. Life brought us together as acquaintances, and a weekend in September, on a tiny island in Lake Erie, made us friends.
We ate Twizzlers, the perfect road trip snack, and laughed at little nothings as we drove to Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Four hours and a ferry-ride later, and we had arrived at the tiny island. Cars were few and far between, and golf carts patrolled the streets. We drank beers, ate perogies, giggled as we walked through downtown and savored the unseasonably warm weather.
After the initial excitement of settling in to our gorgeous, lakefront home for the weekend, we paused in the deepest sense. All eight of us laid outside along the water’s edge, surrounded by the dark of night, simply looking up at a sky filled with an infinite number of stars. The sky was so clear. We were so quiet. It was such a moment. That night we huddled together around a makeshift bonfire, wine in our coffee mugs and life chats aplenty. I think we all needed that moment of calm in our lives, especially to start our time in Put-In-Bay.
Our weekend was both eventful and relaxing. We cheered each other on during a 5K, and celebrated when Kelsey and Jacque won their age groups. We ate soft-serve ice cream and lobster bisque and sipped local wines. We strolled in and out of tiny shops, reminisced about childhood on a swing set, learned about Ohio history at the Commodore Perry Victory and International Peace Memorial and drank and danced late into the night.
We were living our lives to the fullest. We relished in the warmth of the sun, disconnected from technology, left our daily lives behind for a moment, moved at our own pace and simply enjoyed each other’s presence. We were at peace.
On Sunday, we greeted the morning with delicate spinach omelets, Nicolette’s homemade cinnamon rolls, crisp apple slices and Sam’s white peach pie. We enjoyed time by the lake, sitting with our feet dangling off the edge of the concrete over the water. We prayed together at mass, hugged each other during the sign of peace and left singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
In so many ways, Put-In-Bay was exactly what we needed. Time away, time with new friends, time to breathe deeply, to feel at peace, to embrace the paths our lives have taken and to be thankful that those paths brought us here.
Our weekend was like one straight out of a Shauna Niequist book, filled with lakefront strolls, flavorful food, incessant laughter, deep faith and true friendship.
Our hearts were so full.
“Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sound of their laughter and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments.”