illustration by michael hoeweler
Growing up, I was fortunate enough that both my grandparents had cabins up north, so my family would spend a lot of time in the Bemidji and Cass Lake areas. It was about a four-hour drive to Bemidji—and I had four younger brothers and sisters, so we would play a little, fight a little, go to McDonald’s, maybe get a Happy Meal if we were good that day. Then, when we first saw the cabin—a little green cottage with yellow trim, 10 feet from the lake (no homes are built that close anymore)—there was just a feeling of fun. We’d go out in the pontoon or speed boat with our grandparents and catch fish if we were lucky. I’d lead games out back by the basketball court, plus football games, badminton, home-run derbies. But I stopped going up there as much when I got to high school. I was so busy with sports. Today, especially, I don’t have a lot of time to go back. But recently I made an appearance at a girls’ basketball showcase in Bemidji—to sign autographs and speak to a couple of the teams. We were close enough, so my mom and I thought, “Why not?” and drove by the cabin. We weren’t able to go inside; it was boarded up for winter, in case of storms or ice. Still, it brought back a lot of good memories. These days, things are busy and crazy, but as a kid, my parents would just leave me there for a week. I’d stay with my grandparents, watching movies, roasting s’mores. As you grow up, you still have to take that time off to relax. Otherwise, from high school on, you just keep going.