Memory Snapshots

When I travel to a new place and leave it behind, I discover that I crave that place or certain memories about that place later on. I have been in a city outside Chicago since last Tuesday, and since then, my family and I visited Lake Michigan in Kenosha, Wisconsin. My uncle drove us to the lake’s edge, and I watched the water bob up and down and stretch toward the horizon.

“It’s huge!” I told my sister Alana. “And it’s so much bluer than the ocean!”

I wanted to run to the water and dip my toes in it, even though it was in the 50s and windy, but Lake Michigan is not the ocean. There is no sand but only a squat, cement partition that separated lake from land.

Instead, I took photo with my iPhone and snapped a mental picture of the blue water that we don’t have in Virginia and got back in the car. Sometimes, in quiet moments, my mind wanders back to the lake.

There are other places that I also cherish, and I know the likelihood of going back is either slim or impossible. In Groton, the town where my family lived when I was in middle school, our house was situated in front of a small patch of woods. One snowy day, Mom took us exploring in the woods behind our house. The world was so quiet as we crept between bushes and around trees. I imagined that we were the only people in the world, even though we were no more than a quarter mile from the edge of our backyard.

On other snow days, I would lay under the large maple in our backyard, my arms and legs spread out as if I intended to make a snow angel. I’d stare at the powdery, grey sky, watch the snowflakes fall all around me and accumulate on my sea-foam green coat, and listen to the silence until Mom opened the patio door and yelled, “Rachel? Are you okay?”

There are more snapshots. Rare moments after college when my closest friends gather for weddings and baby showers are bursts of refreshment. My twenty-fifth birthday and how the house shook when about ten people and I did the Cupid Shuffle in the small front room. Eating an excellent falafel sandwich with my friend in New York City. Running a 7:33-minute mile in seventh grade, motivated by Mark Vanmameran’s bouncing mushroom haircut as he ran in front of me. The constant, hearty laughter Jin and I shared when I visited South Korea.

These moments case me to ache for something greater than the fresh, blue water of Lake Michigan, deep laughter with a close friend, peace of snowfall, and simple moments that make me smile. These snapshots are merely a sample of the perfect, blue rhythm, pure peace, and cleansing joy of heaven. That is what I long for, and my soul is never completely satisfied with the beauty offered in this side of life.

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