The Golden Days
I once knew of very few things, but of those things I was sure. I knew that night was the best time to be at a baseball game in the summer, so that you could wear a sweatshirt with shorts and in between innings you could watch the moths as they dance in chaos at the stadium lights. I knew that the taller the corn grew, the closer the end of the summer was. I knew that the best sound in the world was the crashing of waves, seagulls, and the happy voices of strangers at the beach. I knew there was no other dog like ours. Above all though, I knew Dorothy was right when she said, “There’s no place like home.”
Ever since I can remember, we seemed to wake up so much earlier on beach days than on regular ones. That was probably because with three small children, my parents had to pack the van with the entire contents of our house to ensure we could spend the whole day at the beach. Then, we would drive to Seven Eleven to get ice and begin our seemingly epic journey to Cupsogue. We all had our own houses picked out on the stretch of mansions called Dune Road. We gawked and stared at the magnificent buildings with a sort of nostalgia of a life we’ve never lived. We imagined what it was like to think it was ordinary to complain that the sun was too bright through your floor to ceiling windows or that the waves of the Atlantic Ocean were too loud in your back yard. Our days spent at Cupsogue were the best. Everything appeared to have a golden shimmer. Everyone looked so happy. It was a paradise in twenty minutes from our house. We would arrive when the sun was fresh in the sky and leave when it started to dip beneath the horizon. On the way back, with sunburnt skin and salty hair, my brothers and I would, without fail, fall asleep. One time on the way home from a long beach day, we made an unusual stop. I don’t remember much, but I do remember curling my little fingers around the rungs of a chain linked fence and looking in at the most marvelous thing any child could see: a puppy. We were at a place called Bide-A-Wee, which, to me, was another paradise. The puppy was mostly black with some white markings. He saw us and knew before we did, that he belonged to us, or rather we to him. He danced in circles and smiled; sticking his tongue out and wagging his tail so hard I thought it would fly off. I wanted to call him Petrie after a dinosaur from A Land Before Time, but my mom thought of another name that, I realize now, could not have been more fitting: Domino. I don’t remember the car ride home with him or the first time I pet him but I do remember the last. I also remember that he loved summer as much as we did, and he loved us as much as we loved him.
I don’t like to think of the sad times or get too caught up or frustrated with life, but unfortunately it is so easily done. When that happens, though, I remember the days when the world was gold through my eyes and what the ocean felt like on the first day of summer. I remember Domino and the drives down Dune Road, and I think to myself, “No matter what happens, that is where you are and that is where you’ll always be: home.”