I recently spent three weeks surrounded by close friends and family in this magical place where I grew up in the summer called Norway Bay. These people and this place fill me up to the brim, cascade down my waterfall heart and wash through my river veins. Every time I’m there I think I might burst with happiness.
It’s hard to explain Norway Bay in words. I’ve tried before and it never comes out just right. It’s one of those cliche’s that you have to “see it (or live it), to believe it.” As soon as I approach River Road, I put my head out the window and smell the pine-infused, cottage air. I breathe it in and instant calm. My shoulders release, my lungs open, my mind relaxes.
Norway Bay is a constant in an inconstant world. It is my happy place. It lets me surround myself with people who allow me to be. As they say in the Breakfast Club, “we’re all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it that’s all.” At Norway Bay, we’re all a bunch of weirdos. No need to hide it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Time stands still at Norway Bay. No one ages. Parents can become kids again and sometimes the kids become parents (usually tequila is the culprit). It’s a generational melting pot where everyone knows everyone (zero Amish affiliations, I swear). It’s a rarity these days to find a community where you feel uninhibited enough to be your unadulterated self. Job titles, net worth, religious beliefs, geographic local, none of that matters there. We are all equal. We have all left any baggage behind and are free to be stress-free versions of ourselves. Coming off of a stint in New York, it is so refreshing to not have to listen to the dull chatter of “overcompensators” (the people who brag about their careers and the monetary value of every single materialistic thing in the world). At Norway Bay everyone is real. It’s liberating to let your authentic self loose, and to witness others do the same, in this pseudo Never Never Land.
The biggest worries are fixing the chain on your bike to go swimming at the Pier, or having enough quarters for a jumbo white freeze (not the orange C-Plus kind) at Henderson’s, or getting your liquor fix at the SAQ (“quick, before it closes!”) for your sunset cocktail.
Days are spent sailing on the water, testing out your new mermaid fin, maybe hiking to high falls or a quick round of casual golf (army pants and flip flops allowed). Evenings are spent around a beach fire watching the harvest moon and a scattering of stars illuminate the water like a lite-brite board. Lying on your back on the beach and finding the constellations is one of the most peaceful activities I think. Not to get all philosophical, but there’s something existential about looking at the stars. The knowing that there is something bigger than yourself. It makes you feel small and in return it makes all your problems feel even smaller. The moon and stars are humbling, yet at the same time they make you want to reach for more. It’s a rare dichotomy. I like that feeling.
As the night progresses, inevitably someone will pick up a guitar (it’s origin unknown, musical instruments always seem to appear out of thin air there. My Dad’s been known to tear it up on the spoons). We’ll sing along until we’ve annihilated all of the beer that it leaves no other choice but to go skinny dipping or start a dance party (often it’s both).
Technology is more of a nuisance than a convenience up there (no one wants to drop their iPhone off the sailboat). No need to text anyway since there’s barely any service or internet. You’re better off hopping on your bike and finding your friends the old fashioned way…in person. It makes me want to chuck my electronics into the bottom of the river forever (give a whole new meaning to the “tech wave”).
You don’t realize how much the spark of human connection lights up your soul until you can’t reach for your cell to fill a void or cure social anxiety. You realize it’s okay to let silence seep into awkward pauses. You remember what true eye contact feels like. You really hear what someone else is saying and you know they’re really listening to what you have to say (not glazing over and jonesing to check their texts). You recall what it’s like to have a meaningful conversation, full of insightful questions and honest answers. You can drill down deep and get to the core of a person, while still keeping things light enough on the surface that nothing ever gets stale. You find yourself laughing so hard for hours that your cheeks physically hurt and you’re dumbfounded as to where this overwhelming feeling of pure bliss came from.
Those three blissful weeks were the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I arrived at Norway Bay with a chaotic mind and pent-up stress. By the end, my (old) soul had softened again. My eyes clearer, my hair messier, my skin darker, my lungs fuller and my bones dense with love. I let the misty mornings, moonlit nights and new memories with old friends fill me up and swallow me whole.