The sky was a perfect gold as the sun slowly began to sink towards the water. The air was light, breezy, and comforting as guests found their seats in the old church. A beautiful blonde bride cascaded down the aisle in delicate off-white satin. Ahead stood her soon-to-be husband, and just behind him lay a glistening blue lake that could be glimpsed through the stained glass windows.
This bride had lived on the bustling streets of New York City, had fallen in love with the beaches of Mexico, had glimpsed the lights of Times Square in December, and yet, here she was on the biggest day of her life, on the shore of a small lake in Northern Minnesota. Many were confused exactly why this happened to be the dream venue. It didn't seem quite right for a girl with such big city dreams. But what they didn't understand was that this was not just any lake.
Not at all.
Being born and raised in Minnesota means that there is basically some form of a lake everywhere I turn. It also means my childhood unfolded on the back of a pontoon or being thrown off an inflatable tube into the clear blue water. There was nothing that made me happier as a child than knowing we would be taking a trip to our cabin, about three hours north on Gull Lake. The lake where my parents got married. I had seen nearly every photo that existed of their magical white wedding on Gull. My mother slipping off her heels and running across the dock in her delicate white dress. Her and her bridesmaids looking out at the blue waters as the sun began to set, painting the lake in a purplish-pink. It was always my fantasy to someday get married there as well.
It seems as though this water is sacred ground for us. The place where my friends and I feel the most connected. Where we will surely always return, even into adulthood. Where the stars always seem to shine the brightest and clearest. Where we would catch fireflies off the dock and sometimes fall in. Where we told our deepest and most precious secrets. It was where I dropped my friendship bracelet off the pontoon into the bottom of the lake and nearly cried. But when I think about it today, I'm glad I dropped it. It means a mark of us will be there, at the very bottom.
The mark of all of us is mixed up in those crystal waters, and I'm sure it will only continue for generations. It's the place where we always wish we could be. Where when we're not there, we feel a certain type of longing for it. I'm sure it's difficult for non-Minnesotans to understand how a lake can hold so much of our lives. But I suppose you'd have to see it to understand. See the fairytale wedding unfold across the dock. See us jumping off the boat in 80-degree weather. See the luminous purple sunsets that paint the water in pastels. And see the tiny beaded bracelet at the bottom of the lake that connects us to its waters. Forever.