Smack dab in the middle of Lincoln, Nebraska, sits a lake. More specifically, Holmes Lake. To be frank, the lake itself is quite gross. The water is composed of thick brown liquid that looks uninhabitable, yet the lake is home to whiskered catfish that resemble someone’s drunken grandpa, along with bug-eyed trout. The moss is a neon green color that covers most—if not all—of the rocks that surround the natural lake. The lake is small—112 acres to be exact. It’s nothing compared to the great lakes that are found up north. It is surrounded completely by trails, and you can almost always find a jogger or a biker circling the water. Flaws and all, the locals love the lake because it’s a great place to get some fresh air, hang out with friends, let dogs roam free and start up your own softball league.
Holmes is my sacred place. It is where I go when I need to breathe, think or even run away from my problems. It’s a peaceful area where you aren’t expected to fulfill your day-to-day role. You are just there to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. To me, a sacred place is somewhere that you feel your truest self. It’s a place where you have an abundance of memories. It’s an area that means something special to you that no one can take away.
The first memory I have at Holmes happened when I was in middle school; for my 12th birthday my parents surprised me by renting a limo for my friends and me. Damn, did we think we were cool. Our first pit stop was Holmes. We made the driver swerve through the winding roads that eventually led to the parking lot of the playground. That area was deserted, so we got the whole place to ourselves. There was an intoxicating sense of freedom that we all felt that day. A feeling we couldn’t get just sitting at our own houses, being watched by parents. We fought each other for swings, raced down the slides and went over all the hot middle school gossip that happened that week. Man, let me tell you, the gossip never ended. There was always something for us to stick our noses in even though it never had anything to do with us. #middleschool Eventually, we got bored and made the driver take us to get ice cream.
As the years flew past, I realized I didn’t establish a true connection with Holmes until I was able to get there on my own. Being driven there by my parents didn’t mean as much as being in control of when I got to go there. Once I turned 16 I went almost every week. It was like the lake was beckoning me to come. At some point during high school going to the lake turned from a want to a need. I needed a break from my classes, my family, and all the other unnecessary drama that consumed my life at that time.
Another prominent memory I have at Holmes was the last day of school of my sophomore year. My two closest girl friends had informed me that we would be meeting up with a group of guys from our class to play sand volleyball. The courts are nothing special; just three rectangular boxes filled with cheap sand. The nets are worn down and have an abundance of large holes. The nearest bathroom facility is an overused outhouse that always has a pungent odor wafting out of it. At this stage in my life boys were completely uncharted territory, and the last thing I wanted to do was step outside my comfort zone. But, on the other hand, there was a small part of me that said, “screw your comfort zone.” As a result, the three of us showed up at the sand volleyball courts where we were greeted by fifteen unfamiliar faces—both guys and girls. (Well, not unfamiliar—I had seen their faces but never spoken to them.) I was awkward. I felt like I was hiding behind my friends like a shy child would hide behind their mother’s legs. We all introduced ourselves and quickly split up into teams. Honestly, the only reason we were even there in the first place was because a friend of mine had a huge crush on one of the guys. The crush situation didn’t work out, but the friendships did. Sand volleyball became a constant event. Those late summer nights became a time where whoever could come showed up, which meant a different mix of people got to hang out every night. The friend group was solid until we all left for college, and then as many do, it fell apart. But the memories that Holmes provided us will always be there.
I remember one time when I needed to escape. I had dreamed of going abroad since I was young. I had decided on a program, a place and a semester. All I needed was a way to finance it. My parents told me that as much as they wanted to, they couldn’t afford to help. I thought that I had saved enough ahead of time that I wouldn’t even need to ask. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the large upfront cost that my program required months before I even left for Italy. My last resort was to ask my grandparents for a loan. I hadn’t prepared them before I went over so when I opened my mouth and told them the number I shouldn’t have been shocked when they sat there and stared at me in silence. I was mortified. I felt awful. I just couldn’t stop asking myself, why did I think this was a good idea? After, I booked it to Holmes, sat in my car and cried for hours. Eventually, the tears stopped coming and I made my way back home. A couple days later my grandpa called me and told me he would loan me the money as long as I paid it all back. I was relieved but at the same time I knew it would be a while before I was no longer in debt to him.
Holmes has always been the place I run to when I don’t want to deal with the ongoing pressures of daily life. When I go there, I am able to choose serenity or listen to people enjoying life. It’s been a constant in my life. It’s a place that I long for when I am away from home. Something that has been there since I was born and (hopefully) will still be there when I die. It has given me something that I can’t get anywhere else. It’s my safety net that I can fall back on when I don’t know what to do next. It is home.