A Remembrance Of The Past This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I can still smell the salty air, mixed with the fragrance of the cold cuts from the deli, hear the mild waves of the sound and my baby sister crying; and feel the cold, hard stone benches and stone checkerboard table. The memory of my parents taking me and my younger sisters to West Meadow Beach for dinner didn't mean anything to me until about a year ago when I realized how much my family has drifted apart.

It seems like we used to have picnic dinners at the beach all the time. It didn't matter if it was spring or fall; every other Thursday we would head to the beach at five-thirty. Most of the time I was wearing a t-shirt and my OshKosh overalls, with a sweatshirt so I wouldn't catch a cold, Mom used to say. My younger sister, the one who is two years younger, would always wear corduroys and a sweatshirt. The baby, six years younger, was usually in her pajamas, either asleep, or crying, waiting to go to sleep.

I remember my mom loading us into the Caravan, and taking us out when we were at the deli just around the corner. Picking out our sandwiches and snacks was a lot of fun back then. Usually it was between chicken cutlet and roast beef, and Fritos and potato chips. I could never decide which I liked better, and always begged for both, usually to no avail. After our large order was bagged and paid for, off we went to West Meadow.

When we would arrive at the nearly empty beach, my dad would already be there, waiting to give us our "I'm home from work" hugs and kisses. We'd jump into Dad's arms and start to tell him about our day. My sister and I never did finish though. We would always get sidetracked by the looming playground, my dad included. My sister and I would start to run for the swings, with my dad two strides behind us, but as soon as we reached the entrance, my mom would call us back and tell us to eat our dinner first.

So, my dad, my sister and I would walk back with pouting faces, and sit at the checkerboard table. We unwrapped the white paper holding the hearty sandwiches, and opened the snack-size bags of chips. The special treat with our dinner was Dr. Brown's black cherry soda, instead of our ritual glass of milk. We ate half of the sandwich and chips, while our eyes continually drifted to the giant twisting slide.

When we finished, and Mom said it was okay, Dad carried my sister and I to the playground. We touched the stars on the swings, and laughed as we shot down the slide. My mom and dad would take turns watching the baby and playing with us, although my mom did most of the watching, and my dad did the playing.

Just before sunset, my mom would tell us that the sun was going to bed, and to watch the sky for the pretty colors he was giving us. We would never leave the beach before the sunset, because it was my mom's favorite part of our picnics. After the sun went down, we'd play some more, either until it was dark, or the bugs came out.

Leaving was never easy, because my sister and I could never decide which car to ride home in. We never rode home in the same car, because we both always wanted the front seat. When we got home, all three of us would be tucked into bed, exhausted from the beach.

This memory, while it makes me smile, also makes me sad. Each person in my family, even my baby sister, now has her own agenda. We haven't had a beach dinner together in five years, and I actually miss that. As a teenager, I usually try to be independent of my family, but I realize how much I miss giving my dad a "welcome home" hug, going to the deli with my mom, and playing with both of them and my sister, together on the playground. It's sad to think that we have all grown up too much to want to touch the sky on the swings, but I know one thing about us: we all love each other enough to remember these good times, and to try to make more family memories today. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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