When my sister and I were still in elementary school, my parents took us to Mackinac Island on vacation. They rented a cottage for a weeknear the end of the summer. It was the best time of my life. I think it helped that it was the first time my parents let us actually do anything on our own—since there are no cars on the island, my parents were not as afraid for us to ride our bikes around. My sister and I took full advantage of our parents’ change in policy and explored the island every free moment we could.My parents also took us horseback riding for the first time on that trip, and I totally fell in love. I was in that horrendously awkward period where my body was starting to rebel and change and I was acting like a teenager even though I didn’t have the age to back it up (I think they call that a tween now). I caught on right away and it made me a lot more comfortable in my own skin. When you have something you are good at, you get more confidence. Of course, I also met my first crush there and had my first kiss. That helped my confidence too!
It isn’t any wonder that I cried when we left the Island to get ready to go back to school and our regular lives. I didn’t want to go back to my regular life. I wanted to stay on Mackinac, with my bike, riding horses and swimming at the beach. I think I started crying on the ferry and didn’t stop the entire way home. I have no idea how my parents didn’t throw me out the window of the car on that drive back. Even though over a decade has passed since that time, I smile when I think about that summer. It was the happiest I have ever been.
When I got engaged, it was the first place I thought of. I imaged myself traveling by horse-drawn carriage to the Grand Hotel where my handsome groom and all our friends would be waiting on the front porch for me. I was devastated when I found out how much my fairytale wedding would cost.At that age, I didn’t have much in the way of savings. I got a job and thought my fiancé and I were putting all the money in the bank to at least honeymoon on Mackinac and get our lives started, but it turned out that he was pissing it all away on dumb stuff instead. I should have taken that as the warning sign it was, I know, but I didn’t.
Now that I am older and pretty much only have to think about myself, I scrimp and save all year so that I can be on Mackinac at some point every summer. Now I have made some friends there and we try to rent a cottage together; not ideal but it helps keep the costs down. We take turns buying food, cooking, and cleaning the place. It is always just as magical as I remember. I want to be able to buy my own summer place there one day and I really want to be able to bring Skye with me when I go. Big dreams, I know, but if you don’t have dreams, what do you have? I know if I keep my head down and work hard, I will get there one day.