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I just spent a magical three-day weekend in the crown jewel of the Show-Me State. Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. I hadn’t been back since college, and boy, the nostalgia washed over me like sparkling, piss-infused, brown water.
The sensory throwbacks bombarded me all weekend. The smell of a musty, old lakeside convenience store that had remained unchanged since 1993. The harmonic symphony of jet skis, cigarette boat motors and outboard Mercurys rang out as I woke each morning. The sweet taste of a back cove gas station piña colada in a 32-ounce styrofoam cup after a morning on the water. It was just too much for me.
There was only one thing on my mind as I leisurely plodded my way through dozens of vodka-La Croixs and Michelob Ultras — it’s time to buy a lake house. Not this week, not this year, maybe not next year, but definitely in the next five years. The 2020s will be my decade at the lake. I have no doubt in my mind.
My parents had a lake house just 40 minutes from our house and my aunt and uncle have owned a lake house since I was just a boy. The lake is simply a part of me. I was born with a bilge pump for a stomach and a double outboard engine for a brain. I am at my happiest when I am hauling ass in a 24-footer with an ironically tropical-themed bar on the horizon. It’s simply where I am in my element the most.
Can I afford a lake house on my own? No. Hell no. That’s why you make friends who like the same things you do. Is going in on a mortgage with four other people a good idea? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out. Owning my own plot of land in a cove just off the main channel is worth the risk. The thought of having a split-level four-bedroom compound decked out with cheesy disco-era nautical wall decor and Gary Cooper RC Cola ads just tweaks my nipples. Imagine having a cupboard full of Roland Martin DVDs that are entirely there for show. Tell me that you wouldn’t think twice about spending a long July weekend there. Tell me that isn’t a scene right out of your dreams.
A lakehouse isn’t a flex. It’s an incredibly selfless purchase if we’re being honest. Do you know what a logistical nightmare a lakehouse is? Do you know how many Sundays my mother spent shutting down our lakehouse? How many bags of charcoal and gas station ice we went through? Massive unforeseen maintenance costs? Drydock and winterization fees? Boater insurance? Endless lectures to kids under 13 about how the house rules on life jackets and backflips? It’s a symbolic purchase to your friends and family that says “Yes, I am willing to spend thousands of dollars a year for you to have a place to spend the summer and in return, I get to yell at you for standing up before I dock the boat.” It’s all worth it.
My family’s lakehouse hosted dozens, if not hundreds of people in the decades that we owned it. It was our summer hub. We got older, didn’t spend as much time there as we used to and eventually, we had to sell it.
There’s nothing I want more in life than my little slice of Americana. Whether that’s a 1000-square foot knotty pine shoebox, or a palatial five bedroom with panoramic windows, it’s a goal that is so nearly within my reach and approaching on the horizon. That’s gotta count for something. .