When my grandparents lived on Long Island, life was good. Summer vacations in Center Moriches were heaven for a kid from Jersey, and on days when we didn’t even leave the house we went crabbing on the bulkhead, caught eels, sea robins, and baby bluefish from the dock, watched the phosphorescent jellyfish at night, and had spectacular pizza. Plus, my grandparents were wicked cool. We squeezed a lot of things into the days while we were there, but for me, one of the most memorable things was pulling out of the creek into the bay. My grandparents had a boat – a small one, with a single Evinrude motor on the back – that we would occasionally take out to go clamming or ride over to Fire Island. The creek that they lived on was nothing to sneeze at, it was wide enough for some pretty impressive boat traffic, but while you were still in the creek, you had to go slow enough not to create any wake – so the ride out towards the open ocean was pretty leisurely. Once we hit open water though, my grandmother would gun it. The sensation, especially as a kid, was unlike any other. The bow of the boat would pop up out of the water as the motor kicked in, and the speed pushing you back against the seats combined with losing sight of the water ahead of us as the bow loomed high above the caps of the waves was thrilling and terrifying all at once. Eventually they moved to a house that was a bit more manageable, and my aunt and uncle moved in (which still made for awesome trips), but eventually they moved on too. My last week on that water was heart wrenching - I wasn’t really a kids any more, but it still felt like I was losing something big.
These days, life from my perspective is a little different. Having kids instead of being one (even though our oldest is seven) still feels new to me. I get some time standing at the bow now and then, but rarely have a seat in the stern… and the thrills are different. We go fishing every year, which I love, but watching Sam or Lily catch something is far better than getting one myself. Plus, there’s dad stuff. They need me for things, which is occasionally awesome. The ‘I got a splinter in my butt, can you take it out’ moments suck a bit, and the ‘oh my god, it’s so unfair, you’ve ruined my life’ drama leaves a bit to be desired, but the ‘that’s so cool!’ moments make it all worth while. Plus, kids say some crazy shit. Seriously , I could sit around all day and make up stuff to say, and it wouldn’t be nearly as funny as the things that pop out of their mouths. For example… ah, I can’t think of anything at the moment. Get your own kids.
What I find myself worrying about from time to time, is whether or not they have their moments on the back of the boat. I think they do, we try anyway. We sure as hell cram stuff in, and there aren’t a lot of days that we aren’t running around like loons… and when we aren’t, we have perfected the art of doing absolutely nothing at all (the four of us can make some spectacular ass dents in a couch when we want to). Thing is, I can’t really tell what sticks with them and what doesn’t. One example from an endless list – for the first time, we all had the same spring break week off, and decided to make the most of it (well, Sara did to be honest, since she is the master planner of our relationship). We actually had a good plan, we had some days at home to chill out, some little mini trips planned, a night in NY to see a show, and a night in Philly to roam around. Relaxing, and fun. That was the plan… and it really was, I have to say I had a great week. But in retrospect, the amount of work that went in to the week was staggering – there were tickets, reservations, dog sitters… and an endless number of phone calls, texts, favors cashed in, and friends who moved things around to spend a little time with us. At one point, we were in my favorite hotel in Philly, in an extraordinary corner suite we weaseled our way into, after we got back from a dinner at one of my all time favorite places (in our own private dining room, no less) with some great friends of ours… and after we got home, you know what my kids said the best part was? When we got room service.
Which troubled me. Immensely. Because they had a great time, and happily told anyone who would listen everything we did during the week… but I thought about it, and you know what? It’s all good. I have no idea what hoops my parents and grandparents jumped through for me while I was growing up. I don’t really know the sacrifices or choices they made because of me, but I remember sitting in the back of that boat, I wouldn’t trade that memory for the world.