We usually visit family for vacation, either at Lake Keowee, South Carolina or to the Blue Ridge mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. This year, though, procrastination combined forces with many unsuccessful, indecisive HomeAway and VRBO searches, leaving us without a viable option near family.
Well, to be honest, there were places left to rent, but I’m pretty picky when it comes to the few days a year I get to really relax and refresh from my busy life. I want fresh, clear water to swim and boat in. I want magnificent short and long range mountain views. I want comfy furniture with room to spread out, a porch with a view and plenty of windows for sunlight to stream in. I want a place that’s clean and up-to-date, not a moldy shower, sunken-bed and cob-web corner kind of place. Like I said, picky.
We end up a short two hours from family, in Hiawassee, Georgia. Amazing place. So amazing that I hesitate to write about it–for fear the world hears and rushes in! Of course, with only 512 Wonderful WordPress Followers, I calm myself on that question. The name “Hiawassee” comes from the Cherokee word “Ayuhwasi,” (meadow) but some say it is named for a Native American princess. Hiawassee is a picturesque small town in the mountains at the southern end of Lake Chatuge. The lake is spring-fed, a reservoir with 132 miles of mountainous shoreline. Within thirty minutes of Helen,
Anna Ruby Falls, Blairsville and Brasstown Bald, we have our choice of short day trips to round out our lazy days on the lake. Our place, a townhouse we rent, is steps from the lake. It has all of the amenities on my “picky-list,” plus. The owner leaves fresh flowers in every room. There is a swing on the balcony overlooking the lake and mountains. The dock offers a swimming area complete with a ladder so I might properly and safely climb into the water–and some shallow areas where my granddaughter digs her toes in to find tiny mussels.
As I relax, I take care to preserve the good feeling. For those of you who follow my posts, you know I’m young at heart. My body doesn’t always share that sentiment. With respect for the old gal’s body, I spend many hours just loafing in the lake on an inflatable lounge chair, enjoying the view–and my granddaughter’s antics. I remember to squeeze my glutes (as my physical therapist emphasizes) with each step of our two hikes, one up the shady trail by Anna Ruby Falls and the other on the steep pathway to the highest point in Georgia (Brasstown Bald). I am doing fine and don’t want to spoil it by overdoing things and waking up the boogie monster. But the wooden ledge on the edge of the dock, resting a few inches below the clean water, keeps calling me.
“Flip!” the ledge calls.
I look away. Such a lovely view. So relaxing. . .
“Come on, do it!”
Is it the ledge, or the child inside, or are they conspiring together?
It is the last full day on the lake. “If it hurts,” that kid inside my head reasons, “well, it’s not like you’ve ruined the whole vacation.”
“I’m scared, though. I don’t want to hurt,” the fifty-eight year-old replies.
“Hmmm, so it is.” I have no argument. I really want to do it.
So I make a big production (If I cramp up or get dizzy, someone will rescue me, right?).
“Announcing, one and all, the famous flip of the fifty-something fibro-woman!”
My granddaughter stops to look and laughs. Before long the others have come to attention too.
And I do it!
Jumping forward and tucking my head, body, legs. . . over I go. I plunge into the cool support of Lake Chatuge. Muscle memory kicks in. My arms and legs know what to do. I feel the gentle pressure of water on every inch of my body without the support of a float. I feel it help me rise to the surface. My fist goes up in the air and I shout–no, woop–with victory!
And it doesn’t hurt!
Everyone cheers. Then they seem to want to go back to what they were doing. They obviously don’t realize the courage it took, the incredibly wonderful feeling it brings, this flop-of-a-flip-that-looked-more-like-a-somersault-than-a-dive-but-is-so-great-to-me! So I start clapping rhythmically and calling my step-daughter’s name, over and over again. My granddaughter joins in the call for “Mom-mie! Mom-mie! Mom-mie!”
She complies, leaving the comfort of her water lounger, and we all cheer, and before long we are all doing silly jumps and dives and other antics from the dock, cheering one another on.
And it doesn’t hurt!
And I don’t get dizzy or lose muscle control or cramp or drown or die!
Vacation is over, now, and as I write this memoir, I lay in bed nursing a strained back that I didn’t get on vacation. This one came as I reached across the bed grappling for the remote control in the dark. Who knew watching TV in bed could be so dangerous? But it will get better. I won’t give up, or give in. I will take good care of myself and get back to functioning soon.
Maybe next time I’ll be more apt to jump in the lake and less apt to reach for the remote!
This summer won’t be remembered for this present back ache. This shall be the summer of the flippin-fun-fifty-eight-year-old!
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Hiawassee. Thank you, Lake Chatuge. Thank you, Appalachian Mountains. Thank you, family. Thank you, body, soul and spirit. Thank you, Hanz Tabora at Access Physical Therapy in Jacksonville, Florida: the best physical therapist EVER.
Flippin’ Fun to you,
©Joan T. Warren