Before 19, Volume 3, 2014
Sagaponack By Sophie Lieber
The silky road turned to gravel. The slightest recognizable crunch beneath the Land Cruiser’s hot, searing rubber refreshed memories and excitement grew within me. I had spent every summer of my whole life here, routinely traveling down Daniels Lane, each time rolling down the car windows with perfect timing, just before we turned onto our road of bunny paths and salty air. A breeze occupied the Land Cruiser, grainy and filled with spunk. And then all shades of Labrador Retrievers raced to stick each nose and tongue out into the crisp wind. Finally, the long year filled with taxing elementary school work was over. We would pull up to the Rosen house, a never-ending shell of shingle. The natural gray stain of the shingles matched many other homes in Sagaponack. However, the warmth and character on the inside of the shingled shell seemed utopian to me at the young age of six. I could finally run into the open arms of all nine of my cousins. I ran through the gates, past the garden of infinite basil and thyme and then the hot tub with an everlasting roll of bubbles. In the pool I would find my cousins afloat noodles and swimmy diapers, reunited each summer. By now my
shoes had been thrown to the side and I could feel the scratchy sand in between my toes as I ran to jump in. Listening to the unmistakable low rumble of each ocean wave breaking in the background, I knew I was home at last. Another blissful summer had begun. The house was like Mary Poppins’ bag, limitless. A family of nineteen under one roof. As we nervously made our way up the dangerously suspended stairs, we weren’t allowed to let go of the railing. God forbid we run right from the pool and slip through the stairs through the gaping cracks. Every head returned to the same pillow each year. The first morning was always the best feeling to wake up to. Every cousin awake at the crack of dawn scurried down to the playroom, eager to awaken the VHS. Shoulder to shoulder we sat on the damp couch, air kissed by salt water billowing through the screen door. Anticipating the race to the endless dining table for breakfast, we disregarded the video on repeat and kept our attention glued to the door, waiting for Poppy to return with freshly baked donuts, velvety muffins, and fuzzy farm stand peaches. Ready to take on the day, each one of us suited up in bathing suits, and with fluorescent neon goggles in hand, we made our way down the path to the beach. As we ran through the hedges on the wooded walk, our little feet left prints behind. Bunnies scurried to the side and the parents in tow scolded us to stop running. They were always afraid of the splinters that our Play-Doh feet would attract. Suddenly we were transported into the swaying dunes of Sagaponack. We would return covered in a layer of sand and race to the pool to rinse off. But the day had just begun. Those gray shingles vaulted ceaseless fun inside. Tunnels of toys, dances to Backstreet Boys, bonfires of chocolate kisses and marshmallow fingers, and endless love. Secure within the gray shingled shell of Rosens. I looked forward to each summer I had with my cousins. They lived far away and I didn’t get to see them much. We would choreograph dances and perform shows in our gracious living room. Fly kites and run like birds up and down the beach--though as a little kid, I always felt like a bit of an outsider. They all had the same last name, Rosen, and my last name was Lieber. My mom was the only girl out of the four siblings. At the time, I felt that it was necessary to declare my new and improved last name as Rosen-Lieber in order to fit in with the pack. Usually, one of my cousins, Hannah, and I would adventure out into the bushes of the driveway and brave our way through the vines. The height of the
Before 19, Volume 3, 2014 overgrown greens was just perfect so that our heads were concealed in this enchanting forest and left our braids untouched. We forged new paths each summer, but each began with last year’s trail. We dragged beach chairs in with us and set them down to do cartwheels in the grassy opening. In a good year, blackberries and raspberries were plentiful and we could pile them into our mouths, and then extra containers. Grandma loved to make fresh jam with the berries we collected and sometimes she would pull out the stepstool in the kitchen and let us stir the pot. Summers rolled by for six more years. I found myself at the end of August once more. I awoke naturally to the cheery birds and my feet searched for the warm chestnut floors. A layer of salty dew snuck inside and grabbed for each foot leaving a gluey residue in between each step. When I arrived for breakfast all the pastries were present, but the loving vibes were nowhere to be found. Just a ruffled newspaper lay amidst my family’s silence at the table. I grabbed for the paper and each head seemed to turn away. There it was, the real estate listing. Picture and description included, convincing you to buy our house and we’ll throw in some memories at no extra cost. What a deal. Sold within a short period of time, the Rosen Headquarters vanished. Summers would never be the same and “replacement” beach houses could not compare. As time moves on, I’ve come to realize that our family has lost not only the house, but also the connection. Each summer in Sagaponack had kept our family so tight and the cousins so close. We nine cousins were inseparable at the time. Memories were made every day and each year left me sobbing when we departed at the end of summer. When the house was sold, each family began to grow and develop, but only in separate ways. The complete family can be found maybe once a year nowadays and would never consider vacationing together once more. As I grow older, I realize that ignorance was bliss. Things were not as perfect as they seemed and our biggest family problem was not that we didn’t have enough goggles for each cousin. I still wish for a connection to bring us back and to rekindle the bond that I thought previously existed. You really don’t know what you have until it’s gone.