Wish Upon a Dandelion
Growing up on the eastern end of Long Island, people automatically assume I’m a spoiled brat. While I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a brat, I think they hit the nail on the head with their first stereotype. I’m privileged. And when I say privileged, I don’t mean mommy and daddy pay for my laptop or for my habit of dining out once a week (heck, they hardly even pay for my socks now-a-days). But they did bless me with a beautiful home and an even more beautiful childhood.
For as long as I could remember, I grew up in a historical neighborhood with the Noah-Hallock Homestead at the very bottom of my road. Every street was designated to a farmer who inhabited the land centuries ago. Needless to say, I grew up a pretty curious kid. I had my secret spots and hideouts, and at one point I even attempted to dig a four foot hole to play spy kids in. I like to suppose that my mother is responsible for assuaging all of these curiosities. I would gather dandelions and pluck out gray little weeds, and she told that if I huffed and I puffed, all of my outrageous wishes would come true. My wishes, every now and then, would request good health or healing for a family member. However, they consistently included my thirst for exploration, and “if you could, magic dandelion, please find me another really cool secret spot.”
Almost every single weekend, my family would take a leisurely ride out to Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead or have a competition on the Flying Horses in Greenport. I was always the one to snatch up the most golden rings. Westhampton was another favorite. I would splash around and pretend I was sailing on the back of a Pygmy whale. I caught tiny baitfish with my hands and wrapped it around sticks, serving it to the adults I was with as “delicious sashimi.” As my body lay transfixed, my imagination would glide. The salt wind whistled over my face and the scintillating sun warmed my body.
We often explored East Moriches, where my wish coincidentally came true. My bare feet were always covered with calluses from walking down the coarse pavement of the street, past the weeping willows and erect pines. The creek was not visible from the road, and as far as I could tell, nobody ever went there, except for my cousin and I. Stones and pebbles lined the shallow bottom and permit the water to flow in, creating patterns all over their polished surface. Moss covered rocks dotted the bank allocating an ideal setting for a curious child to sit, watch, and wonder. My cousin and I used to play hop-scotch from rock to rock, testing our balance and agility against one another. He was two years older than me, and on the rare occasions that I surpassed him, I wore a frivolous smirk throughout the day.
Time passed and I grew older. A midsummers day, I decided that I wanted to re-spark my childhood memories. I stopped by Rivherhead for a fantastic sandwich, hopped around rocks by the creek, took a quick dip in the Atlantic, picked some raspberries close to Briermiere. I caught one golden ring and took another ride on some flying horses. It occurred to me that what was once a journey was now merely a lifestyle. How many other kids can say they were able to walk across the street from their backyard and stick a kayak in the water? Who else has had races through the vineyards, and has built ten foot tall sand castles? I might be privileged, but I wouldn’t change finding that creek or growing up on the east end for anything in the world, no matter what other river, sea, or ocean I may wade.