My Cape Cod

My Cape Cod by Leslie Marsh – Photo by Elena Eisenstadt

The salt water tingled on my lip as I listened to the soft crunch of lettuce echo in my ear while I indulged in Nanny’s hearty turkey sandwich. It was the same exact whole wheat turkey sandwich, shaped with my favorite dinosaur cookie cutter, that had become a piece of me; its comfort invited me in as it never failed to do. Though Nanny would have argued, “don’t eat too many dino limbs or you won’t have room for dessert,” I knew it was not necessary to fuss over how many I consumed, as my appetite for the ice cream truck’s famous SpongeBob popsicle was never at risk. My rowdy hair, wet and sandy, danced in a not-so-waltz-like manner, forming figure eights in the gusty Cape Cod wind. Blanketing my midriff was a stolen Hampton Inn towel—Nanny’s most prized possession. The Dollar Store sunglasses that rested on my nose seemed to only invite the blinding July sunlight in even further, as I squinted behind them in my 1000-year-old beach chair that sunk into the sand like my winter boots in the fresh snow. I immersed myself in the environment that enveloped me, watching as Yarmouth’s newest crop of youngsters made themselves at home, crafting the most cheerful-looking sand castles across the never-ending shoreline while their inattentive parents lounged under their umbrellas, hoping to steal a peaceful moment for themselves. Although the birth of my teenage years had brought my sand castle making endeavors to an end, I could see my young, creative eyes in those of the new castle makers, as if I were passing the job down to them. While the bittersweet feeling that crashed over me like a wave at the shoreline felt foreign, it felt right.

Closing my eyes, I listened to the harmonic murmur of the ocean’s current, and focused on the sun’s warmth absorbing into my skin and filling my body with a sense of overwhelming peace. I tuned out my family’s typical Sunday crossword puzzle banter, not letting anything interfere with my deep, pensive thoughts. I thought about my younger self as I would meticulously refine and polish the carefully designed architecture of my sand creations. I thought about the thrill that would overcome me as I collected jellies, slimy and all, with my less interested twin brother. I thought about the first time I caught a crab—a proud moment that happened on the dock standing just 100 feet away from me, now burning the bare feet of the new young crab catchers as it did to mine that day. My thoughts were like dreams that engulfed me; they were vivid, yet imaginative.

As my thoughts grew stronger, my typical teenage worries grew lighter, floating off my shoulders like a kite in the gentle summer breeze. A story hidden inside me emerged, and a waterfall of emotions came flowing back. I saw the flounder in the crab net as I eagerly reeled it up; its circular, almost two dimensional body seemed to smile as it got closer on its way up to the scorching splinter-generating dock. I was young, eight at most, and my excitement intensified as a crowd of unfamiliar young kids, who would soon become my best friends for the day, came flooding toward me. Fascinated, we took turns investigating the exotic creature, as it was a first for all of us. Though we were all experienced fishermen and crab catchers, our astonishment was beyond words. Nobody had ever caught a flounder on this dock…let alone with a crab net! I begged Nanny to let me take my new pal home to keep as a pet, but even before I asked, I knew she’d say we had to return it to its “natural habitat with its family”—and nobody ever disobeys Nanny. After a few hectic minutes of “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing,” we tossed it back out to sea, watching as the water’s mesmerizing ripple grew to form a bullseye, expanding until it would eventually become one with the rest of the sea. Shortly after kissing our new buddy goodbye, we heard jaunty music coming from the parking lot. “Ice cream for all,” Nanny exclaimed, and my new friends and I all scampered to the truck for a well-earned treat.

As my daydreams led me to beautiful places of comfort, and brought me feelings of blissful nostalgia, I felt the corners of my lips turn upward, but it was not enough for my busy family to discern. I was thinking hard; thinking deep. But it was more than just vivid recollections; I was a little girl again. I was there.

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Leslie Marsh is a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying psychology and special education. In high school, she was an active participant in both her temple youth group, NAWDTY, as well as her regional youth group, and she is always proud to express her identity—something she has been able to do through her involvement with Hillel on campus. Leslie loves singing, cooking, and crafting, and she hopes to someday become a special education teacher.
Accompanying photo: “Fishing for Impatience” by Elena Eisenstadt