Every summer before the house was sold, my mother’s side of the family would venture out east to Southampton, where my grandparents owned a rustic-looking house with access to a private beach and tennis court. Pulling into the winding, narrow driveway, I gazed upon the acre of moss and dried grass interrupted by dilapidated trees shooting through the moist dirt known as “the backyard.” All of the little knick-knacks, like the cardinal thermometer and the clog shoes my grandfather crafted by himself, never failed to fascinate me. Genuine smiles welcomed us as we journeyed up the pavement, accompanied by warm embraces once we exited our silver car. Arriving, I would swing the red side door open, sprint past the kitchen, and trudge up the purple-carpeted stairs to the same room on the left, finally feeling at home.
As the crisp Hampton morning struck, my aunts, cousins, and grandparents would gather outside on the open porch connected to the garage, decorated with green-and-white striped lawn furniture and directors’ chairs, with two glass tables on either side and an old barbecue placed in the corner. Sipping freshly brewed coffee, each of us would recall an event that happened the night before, like the time I could not sleep so Aunt Carolyn and I snuck downstairs into the kitchen and ate carrot muffins at four o’clock in the morning. The concrete porch overlooking the aging grass completing the Hamptons lawn holds some of the fondest memories of every summer spent in Southampton; like the time all eleven of us snuggled in the comfy couch cushions surrounded by burning torches and for almost a full sixty minutes tried to solve the riddle, “I went into the woods and got it. I sat down to seek it. I brought it home with me because I couldn’t find it.” And when we figured out the answer was a splinter, we sat and laughed not with each other, but at each other, because we could not believe the solution was so obvious. Finding turtles slowly stepping across the cold patio or playing crochet in the backyard with my cousin, Kieran; or answering the white wall phone in the garage when I was not supposed to and then admiring Grandpa’s vintage convertible Mercedes he concealed under a bluish-grey tarp. Relaxing on that patio was more than just leisure to me; I felt infinite.
“Grandma’s Beach:” rock infested sand in tandem with the Peconic, livened with vacation homes and abruptly collided with the nearest tributary. Every time I wallowed down the small, man-made boardwalk leading to the sand, I studied my feet carefully as each toe smacked the dry wood. We made camp, digging beach chairs further into the rocks and drilling two umbrella poles even further. Lathering on thick, heavy sunscreen, I charged for the bay and dove in without testing the water. Hampton water is different; comfortable, clear, smooth, and always tranquilizing. Hour after hour ticked by, and not once did my body break the waters’ surface. On occasion, my grandmother would dip in, teaching me different swimming strokes and holding both of my fragile hands for safety. At a certain hour, a deep pit formed directly in the center of the smooth Peconic, so deep and mysterious we began to refer to the pit as “Mariana’s Trench.” I remember acting like the trench was forbidden, as if a human being even tapped the surface of the pit they would suffer. Milan, my eldest cousin, would dive with goggles and a net into the trench, always floating back to the surface with a fresh puffer fish. The day grew cool, and my mother and my Aunt, Marie, walked to the other end of Grandma’s Beach, collecting shells, rocks, and rare sea glass washed up on shore. Trudging through the sandy rocks to the parking lot, my feet again smacked the boardwalk, saying their own personal goodbye to Grandma’s Beach.
I could ramble continuously about every memory, every detail engraved into my memory from each year in Southampton, like our day trips to Flying Point ocean, and my grandfather would drive his antique Mercedes round trip. Or using string with raw chicken fastened on the end to lure crabs to the surface of the shallow pond, only to be captured by a gigantic fishing net, also compliments of my grandfather. The moment my parents revealed my grandparents were selling the Southampton house, a pit deeper than Mariana’s trench dug through my stomach. I quickly grabbed the family camera and snapped a picture of every square inch of the property; every knick-knack, every room, each decrepit tree. When boredom struck, there would not be a small hand game in every draw to fiddle with. No hand-crafted wood figures made by my grandfather to admire, no more Cromer’s fried chicken take out nights, no more coloring books in the bottom drawer in Aunt Carolyn, Milan, and Kieran’s room. Driving backward through the winding, narrow driveway of the house, I cautiously hid my tears from my parents. Remembering Southampton in the present day, happiness and nostalgia swarm my now mature brain, viewing every vivid memory of this paradise stored in the cobwebs. Even if the new owner of the Southampton house installed a pool and tennis court in the grand backyard, nothing will retard my excitement of making that right turn into 163 Warfield Way.