Lake Nostalgia

From soggy memories...

Anna Voy

Anna Voy
December 31
My name is Anna Voy and these are my stories. I grew up, the youngest of four, in a small lake community in East Texas. My family wasn’t like yours and I can guarantee that. I’m not implying that my family has the market cornered when it comes to being weird. We all have dysfunctional families, but no one’s is dysfunctional in the same way. I feel I can pretty safely assume that my family’s weirdness is unique and is fully responsible for shaping me into what I’ve become. I’ve grown up to be somewhat adjusted, however I keep my quirks intact, fully aware that they are a product of a strange and warped childhood. Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I don’t consider myself abused; rather I view my childhood as a series of strange adventures played out in unconventional ways and perceived through the layers of conditioning that we all inevitably pick up from those who raise us. On sunny days my mind trails back to these soggy memories and I almost swear I can smell the moss of the lake and hear the sounds of the motor boats as they speed rebelliously by the “Caution” buoy. These are the stories I remember…


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JULY 12, 2010 3:09PM

It’s Boring in the Shallow End

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 Great Gatsby

The last line from The Great Gatsby has always stuck with me, “So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Heavy stuff now, but when I was 15 and read it for the first time I thought, poor Gatsby, how sad that he lost a piece of himself in a long ago memory. I have learned that life isn’t ironic, that’s only what stupid people tell themselves because they don’t know any better. Irony implies that something occurred by coincidence and it happens to be sarcastic or satirical. At the very least I’ll admit that life is a paradox. The deep and dirty of it is that this paradox of life is synchronistic, which meant that at the moment I fell in love with The Great Gatsby I was destined to choose such a fate for myself.

            My sister Lauren is now and was then estranged from our family on and off. This most simply is because out of all of us, Lauren is the strangest. She is kooky like Wednesday from the Adams Family, aggressive as a bulldog, and had the indifference of a cat. One of my fondest memories of her happened in quick succession with the worst. Being ten years older than myself, Lauren quite regularly took it upon herself to care for me when she was around. This was a blessing and a curse since Lauren’s idea of “caring” sometimes involved strange tactics not mentioned in any parenting books. Nonetheless I’m a healthy and happy adult so on second consideration maybe a not so traditional book should be adapted. A little tough loved never hurt anyone, right?

            The summer that I was five I remember spending hours desperately wanting to swim where the big kids were in the lake, eight feet from the dock in the deep end. Instead I was forced to waddle by the shoreline, wading in waist deep and then lunging for the shore again when I felt the waves pulling me in. I couldn’t swim. Not knowing how to do something inevitably makes you terrified of it. However, I’ve also found that this terror inspires a bit of interests and obsession in me, which wouldn’t bode so well in survival of the fittest. No, if I was a zebra I’d probably run off from the pack wanting to examine that feeling of loneliness and just as I was coming to terms with the fear the lion would wrestle me to the ground and that would be that.

            Growing tired of playing by myself in the boring shallow end, I climbed over the rocks and retaining wall and trotted onto the dock, dripping water from the ruffles on my one piece. Lauren was sunning herself there and I just stood at her feet watching her and wondering if she was sleeping and thinking that beds were much more comfortable for such things. She squinted and held her hand over her brow, “Do you mind not dripping water on my feet! That water is freezing!”

“Sorry.” I took two steps backward. I stared longingly off at my other siblings in the deep end. They were taking turns dunking each other under the water and oh how I wished I could be there to join in the fun.

“What are doing, squirt?” Lauren was looking up at me again.


“I can see that.”

“Why are you laying there?” true childhood ignorance apparent in my question.

“I’m trying to get some sun.”

“Am I not getting any sun?” I looked at my brown arms in confusion.

“No, it’s just that this is a way to get a more even tan. Actually, you get more sun when you’re swimming because of the reflection off the water.”


Clearly becoming irritated by my continued presence which interrupted the process of worshipping the sun Lauren encouraged, “Why don’t you get in the lake.”

“I was just in there.”

“Well get back in there.” She pretty much demanded.

“It’s boring in the shallow end.”

“Well jump in where Ronald and Katie are” she offered like it was a revolutionary idea.

“I can’t swim.”

My older sister sat straight up with a look of disbelief, “You can’t swim?”


“Well have you tried?”


She got to her feet and before I knew it she had picked me up in her arms. I always liked being carried around since I was the baby of the family and spent most of my early years being passed around. However, this was the experience that would break me of such fondness. Lauren carried me to the end of the dock, “Anna, the only way to learn is to try.” As though she’d given me a full run down of swimming procedures and techniques, she looked at me with confidence and certainty, “Here you go.” And just like that she tossed me into 10 feet deep water.

My splash didn’t quite reach far enough to hit the twins, Ronald and Katie, which meant when they came to rescue me it would take longer than I was willing to wait. I had been clever enough to hold my breath because so often I found myself doing just that when Lauren was around. The bad news was that for all the flailing I did with my arms I was not able to keep myself afloat. I remember seeing Lauren standing at the edge of the dock with a smirk and then she was behind a screen of murky water. Moments later Ronald grabbed my arm and pulled me up and placed my arm on the lower rails of the dock. I held on for dear life, letting the waves take me up and down. As the terror washed away I enjoyed the freedom of moving without having my feet touch the ground. That was the only thing freeing about that experience.   

Later that night as I sat in my bath and filled up empty shampoo bottles to pour on my head Lauren popped in to see me. “Have you washed your hair yet?”

“Na-uh” I said startled by her sudden appearance.

“Here let me do it” she offered.

            She squirted a dollop of VO5 in her palm and began working it into my hair. Her finger nails were long and she used them on my scalp to really increase the effect. Afterwards I would look in the mirror and notice the red claw marks around my hairline which would become the trademark of “shampoos by Lauren.”  She didn’t say anything to me during my bath time, just washed my hair, but somehow that was enough. It felt nice to have her attention and I remember wishing that she was around more often to do those kinds of things for me. Later on she would believe that she should be around more often to do those kinds of things for me, because my mother was incapable, but that would end in kidnapping charges.

            Now as an adult I think about Lauren every so often when I’m shampooing my hair, painting or when I see horses frolicking in a field and I wonder where her life has taken her. I wouldn’t stand at the end of a dock like Gatsby and lovingly stare in the direction of her house, but if we lived in the same state I might drive by her house and look for clues that told me how she lived her life. However, these things don’t happen. Instead I keep a cautious distance from the end of all piers when others are around and I always take my time getting into the water. The things that come to define us are invariably tied to us and that is why life is synchronistic.


Picture courtesy of strawberry:* on Flickr

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This is a fabulous piece. I'm going back to read it again. Immediately._r
Wow....a really good piece.
I especially liked the incredibly descriptive images of your sister: " kooky as Wednesday..., as aggressive as a bulldog, and had the indifference of a cat."
What a great image you've described with those claw marked shampoos. It made my scalp yelp!
Thanks for all the wonderful comments!
Fantastic story. Makes me wonder about your sister also. Maybe she's writing on OS, wouldn't that be weird?
I love the way you tell this. The Gatsby angle is a clever touch. In fact your style reminds me of Fitzgerald's Bernice Bob's Her Hair. Your sister comes off as a fascinating woman.
Loved the intricate details in this post. Wonderfully told.
Wednesday who? Addams, perhaps?
Oh, what a wonderful story, and so beautifully told! st
Great piece . . . love this line:

No, if I was a zebra I’d probably run off from the pack wanting to examine that feeling of loneliness and just as I was coming to terms with the fear the lion would wrestle me to the ground and that would be that.
Bernadine, that's an interesting thought. Now I'm going to read every post very carefully.
Matt, thanks again for another awesome compliment. Lauren is facinating...from a distance. Heheha, j/k, I of course love her for all that she is and all that she was.
Yes, Wineguy, none other than Wednesday Adams.
Thanks to everyone else for your support!