It’s my turn.

I watched my cousins have their turns.

I watched my friends have their turns.

Now it’s my turn —

the turn we all know will come but try not to think about.

The time to clean out our childhood homes — the houses that hold all our childhood memories.

They are time capsules of our very being. Diaries, childhood pictures and projects all will have to be stored away once more, but this time in our own houses.

The energy of good times and sad times envelops you as you go from room to room, knowing that a lifetime’s accumulation of cherished belongings now becomes a task of sorting what is to be thrown out, kept or given away.

Like many Long Islanders of their generation, my parents came from Brooklyn (more specifically Greenpoint) in 1958 in search of the ideal life in suburbia. Their parents before them came through Ellis Island looking for a better life in America.

My parents traded the idea of living in one apartment building with their siblings, spouses and children to living in separate houses near each other. Visits would be to one another’s houses every weekend, or a Sunday meeting at Jones Beach, which was a 20-minute ride instead of an hourlong ride each way from Greenpoint.

Sunday dinners would consist of meatball sandwiches on the beach. Meeting time would be around 4 p.m. at Jones Beach or Point Lookout.

The night would consist of a late afternoon swim, kite flying, walks and then, of course, dinner.

There were other traditions, of course, that made the most of their beloved Long Island. Every Fourth of July and Labor Day there were family picnics at Belmont Lake State Park.

These traditions once again had started in Greenpoint, but now were much easier to get to. Picnics would start with breakfast and end after dinner as the sun set in the sky. Belmont Lake is not only known for its history, but for its rowboats and paddleboats in the lake. Sometimes one had to stand for an hour to acquire a boat, yet it was not to be missed. And no picnic could be without a walk around the lake on Belmont’s beautiful path, ending with a race to get to the cannons before the others. (The cannons belonged to an English warship the United States captured during the War of 1812!)

Now, the house, once filled with summer sand, is vacant.

The yard, filled for years with birthday parties, pool parties and summer sleepovers, is but an empty landscape.

Soon it will be lived in by a new family, who will fill it with their own memories.

I wish them the best. I wish them all the love that this house and land can hold.

I wish them trips to the parks and beaches, and all that this wonderful island has to offer.

But, mostly, I hope that this wonderful house will once again be lived in to the fullest and filled with summer sand.

Marianne Straaik


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