We kept instinctively calling it the sea. When we remembered it wasn’t, we danced around it with vague, all-purpose words: the coast, the water, the beach. I think it felt like it was doing it a disservice to call it a lake.
Even on maps it’s hard to grasp the scale of it. A lake feels like something manageable, something you can glimpse the edges of. If not the other side of it, then at least the curve of the water’s edge around it, the land narrowing to a point that dips below the horizon line. But Superior splays outwards for miles, snaking along the upper edges of Michigan and spilling into Wisconsin and even Minnesota before curling up into Canadian shoreline. You can’t see a horizon line that sits three states over.
They say you can lose people in the depths of that lake. Boats, too. Entire freighters. The lake swallows them whole. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it at first, until I remembered how people would be lost in the Sonoran desert where I grew up - vast, quiet, and unsearchable. You could lay down in the sands there and never be dug up.
I understand, I think, why she wants to stay. Why she feels tethered to those shorelines. When you live at the sloping edges of something most people won’t believe until they’re lost in it, maybe it feels like a disservice to leave it behind. To go somewhere a lake is understood.