i s a b e l l e    d a v i s

I Am Very Worried About Erosion


here's the thing. that's what my mom always says. she says it like mr. monk did on monk, with her hands up. but here's the thing. lake michigan will become something bigger if i need it to.

it is not like most lakes because it is mine.

i grew up on both sides of lake michigan so i know what the sun looks like setting over it & rising over it. sometimes the water from the lake will travel to the other side of the road i am driving down. it will find its way onto the softball fields. i don't know anybody who ever played on those fields but sometimes i feel like i do. i'm not sure how the lake ended up over there. i'm not sure of a lot of things.

like, how did i decide to feel & how did i decide to feel so big & if there's no god then how did i get so small?

the lake froze over today, but not really. it is too big to be frozen. nothing ever really changes, other than temperature. the lake gets warmest in august & in march it gets coldest because our spring still hasn't started yet.

that's the thing about chicago. winter never ends & then it is summer.

my heart is like lake michigan, it's big & it can accommodate new comers. but it is no ocean, it can't sustain that type of life. it has room for creatures with tough exteriors. its favorites have soft interiors & high expectations. they love me like they would love a home.

for my stability.

i had my first kiss on a sand dune over looking lake michigan as the sun set over it.

most first kisses underwhelm but mine didn't. i was patient. i was fifteen & had watched every makeout scene in the oc very closely. we didn't make out though.

it was delicate like two people made of new glass in the middle of cooling after being struck by lightning.

lauren asked me truth or dare & i said truth & she said who would you most like to kiss here? i said his name & later he said my name as the answer to the same question & i blushed & he blushed & then after the game was over i stood up & he stood up & we kissed & everybody aww'd & my heart pounded but not because this kiss was strictly against the rules but because this was the moment i had been waiting for & it hadn't been a disappointment.

years later i would go back to the same spot with the same people but we were older. we sat in a circle & talked about our favorite place in the world. this place. we woke up next to it for three days & it felt like things were okay because we were all here, breathing, existing, next to something lovely.

going to camp is a religious experience even if you are not religious. even if your camp preaches nothing other than respect & friendship. when i think about my summers, the nights spent on lake michigan, the nights spent looking at the stars unavailable to me anywhere else, there is something undeniably holy.

my grandmother didn't believe in god but she let her sisters hold the wake at their church because they needed something to hold on to & she respected that.

when she prayed, she prayed to the ocean. hands & fingers spread apart, pushed into the sand. we spread her ashes out into the pacific on a beach full of the shells she loved to collect. we used dixie cups & parts of her whipped back at us in the wind.

my mom pointed up at the stars later that night when we were alone. she told me that my grandma had always said it was either us or them. the constellations would either disintegrate, their particles falling to earth & becoming parts of people, or we would eventually become bits of glimmering light. she wanted us to understand, she wouldn't mind losing.

camp started the day after she died, a week after she slipped into her morphine coma. i got the call standing in my uncle's cabin in michigan. i didn't cry for three hours. i sat down & watched planes, trains, and automobiles because i had never talked to her about how much i loved john hughes. i had talked to her about being her favorite grandchild & about being okay with clichés. being okay with loving the stars & large bodies of water that can swallow you whole.

my aunt drove me to lake michigan & i walked into the strongest wind i could find. & i screamed a little but mostly it was crying.

she told me that waves could never be exhausted, she told me yes baby, they've been done & they've been done. because they're real.

i cried into lake michigan & maybe she felt me there.

the first time i take my person to the lake they have been crying. crying in a new way i haven't seen before. they just let everything happen without making any attempts to stop tears or snot or anything from getting anywhere until i use my own sweatshirt. we don't say anything on the way there or when we park. we move with our hands intertwined & neither of us is crying anymore because this is our first adventure.

they snuck out of their house to be here & i park in the fire lane so we are both taking risks.

we don't need a fire lane on the shoreline.

the wind moves us like the wind moves people who are emotionally exhausted.

on that night we climb up to the top of a life guard chair. when i first suggest this they look at me like i'm insane & then i start climbing. they are afraid of heights until they aren't.

the beach makes it easier to breathe & the dark makes it easier to tell secrets. the problem is that darkness never really finds us here. the light from the chicago skyline shimmers off lake michigan & reaches us & reaches the sky, preventing the darkness required to make constellations out of stars & getting truths out of people.

that's what i'm thinking but then they are talking & i am staring at the big dipper. we are never done talking or crying or finding new things to confess to each other.

we kiss in front of the lake like stars in our mouths. we kiss in front of the lake like we are our own supply of fresh water. we kiss in front of the lake like we know worlds you don't know— not just then but always. because we kiss in front of the lake like this moment is every moment repeating. we kiss in front of the lake like god found her way into our lips like she's gonna hold us like this.

i tell them i want a beach house with them one day & they tell me, okay.

they tell me, we can make that happen.

my apartment has a view of the lake, just a sliver. my roommate bought us a brita filter so we could save money on water bottles. here's the thing: all of our tap water comes from the lake but it would be dangerous to just drink it.



ISABELLE DAVIS prefers to drink the target brand boxed wine. She is an associate editor for Big Lucks Books and an editor and writer for probably crying review. Her work can be found or is upcoming in the NewerYork, Skydeer Helpking, glitterMOB, Entropy, and others.

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