My husband’s parents are about to become transplantedsouth.
This weekend, in the on-and-off rain, my in-laws had a yard sale in attempts to sell off the last possessions they did not want to take with them to Florida.
I got a call from my mother-in-law, asking me one last time if we wanted to take a few last things:
The antique 1920’s style school desk, complete with an inkwell, that resided in my husband’s childhood room.
The orange and brown stoneware dishes that she used each year for Passover.
Though both these things had great sentimental value, they were remnants of a house that was being left behind, and they just had no place in our present lives. My heart said yes, but my brain said no. We had taken all we were going to take that could fit into our current home. The rest, would just have to live on in memories and in lots of photos.
I’ve been visiting the house at 24 Manor Road North, on a huge one-acre lot, long before I was married. I started going there as a teenager, not long after I met the man who would be my husband at a camping retreat at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
In fact, many of you reading this may have also shared great memories at 24 Manor Road N. long before we became the grownups we are today.
24 Manor Road North was host to our youth group’s student board retreat weekend.
I never attended one of these weekends (I lived on the other island, Staten Island) but I have heard they were legendary.
40 teens in one house for an entire weekend.
Can you imagine?
Later, 24 Manor Road N. was home to many “next to New Year’s” parties in honor of my husband’s January 3 birthday.
Now, after over 40 years of living in Long Island, my in-laws are packing up and heading to their dream retirement home along a golf course in … you guessed it – Boca Raton, Fla.
During these past four decades, they worked hard, raised four children and have done their share of babysitting over 14 grandchildren. They have rightfully and healthfully reached this well-deserved phase in their lives. I am genuinely happy for them. For the grown children however, we are left with that bittersweet realization that you can never go home again.
On our last trip to the house I took lots of photos of parts of the house that I have known forever, and now would never see again.
Like the enormous hedges that seemed to swallow the house with each passing year:
I also took some photos of parts of the house you were NOT allowed to see until you were no longer considered a guest but a part of the family. Like the upstairs “kids” bathroom that my husband shared with his three sisters, the one with the whale mirror:
And then, when you were REALLY family, you could go in the basement. On our last day at the house, we went downstairs to the basement, already filling with boxes, where my father-in-law asked if we wanted to take some paintings he created long ago
We also found remnants from the family business, Fairyland Amusement Park in Brooklyn, that was in my husband’s family for three generations:
This move has been over a year in the making, and selling the house was tough in the Long Island housing market. To sell the house, little bits of its personality were smoothed over, creating a clean slate for the minds of potential homebuyers.
With each visit over the last year, the house felt less like the home I’ve visited since I was 16. Gone from the kitchen were the dozens of hanging plants, some living, some just hanging on, that was known as the “jungle” and where, in rounds, children and grandchildren had breakfasts or July 4 hot dogs after cousin sleepovers:
Gone from the stairwell were the photos of my sisters-in-law as kids and collages of grandchildren.
Gone were the artful silver and mauve squiggles that my father-in-law painted on the kitchen walls.
Everything felt neutral. Beige. Only one room, the dining room where we had so many holiday dinners, maintained its burgundy hue.
On my husband’s last day in his boyhood home earlier this month, I didn’t rush him out despite the seven- hour drive ahead of us back up to Rochester. He watched one last Wimbledon tennis match with his parents on the big sectional couch where the family and many friends logged in thousands of hours of hanging out.
In the end, we had many great memories at 24 Manor Road North. (Feel free to add your own memories, family, in the comments box.)
We’ll just have to make new ones in Florida.
Especially over February break.
Ahh, the high school dating scene….
Did you go to high school in the 1980’s? I did. There, now I’m dating myself, pun intended.
Back then, I didn’t date anyone because no one was asking! Maybe it was because I went to the same high school where my dad taught physical education and coached two teams, and maybe dating a coaches’ daughter was off-limits in some unwritten high school code of law.
But, those in my high school who were seriously “going out” – and by that I mean they didn’t just “hook up” — were so very much in love and so happy the whole world needed to know. As sickening as it was for the rest of us.
In high school, you knew who was going out with who because of all the of PDA (and that’s not Personal Digital Assistant. Remember, this was the 1980’s. These were Public Displays of Affection) in the hallways, the stairwells, the cafeteria, in the schoolyard and on the bleachers.
Girls with boyfriends would go to the Mall and have these sweatshirts made up. (Another memory of the 1980’s, the melting, rubbery smell of the T-shirt shop.)
On the front of the sweatshirt, and it was usually a pink sweatshirt, would be the girl’s and boy’s name in a big air-brushed heart.
On the sleeve of the sweatshirt would be the date of what I guess was their first date, something like this:
Then on the other sleeve, something like this would be written:
And, if the happy couple were dating a really long time – say, six months – the boy would bestow upon on the girl as a gift an ankle bracelet. Only the ankle bracelet was not worn on the ankle but on a chain around the neck.
No other time did the have-nots of high school romance feel more left out than around Valentine’s Day.
Every year in my high school, the Key Club would hold its annual rose sale for Valentine’s Day. Roses were sold in different colors:
Red – I love you
Pink – I want to get to know you better
Yellow – Secret Admirer
White – Friendship
Roses were distributed the morning of Valentine’s Day in homeroom.
In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day of one’s senior year, seniors had another big day to think about and that was prom. That’s because at the Staten Island Mall, the prom dress displays would go up pretty much as soon as all the Christmas decorations would come down.
What made it worse was I believe that was the same year Pretty in Pink was in the movies. So many questions arose months before the prom among my circle of friends:
Who are you going with?
What will you wear?
What other friends are going in the limo with you?
In the timeline of high school, receiving a rose on Valentine’s Day could be a determining factor for answering the above questions about prom night.
So, there I was in homeroom on Valentine’s Day, when to my shock, I received a rose.
A red one.
Now, at the time, I was not interested in anyone, at least anyone who went to my school.
At that moment I thought of my mom’s wise words: it will happen when you aren’t looking. Someone sent me a red rose! Whoever this person was had circumvented the rose selections of friendship, get-to-know-you-better or secrect admirer. The sender of this rose went straight to
This could be big! This could be my first Love!
My 17-year-old mind whirred. Who could it be? Someone in my AP English class? Certainly not anyone in AP biology, I hoped. Or, someone who was in none of my classes who would see me in the hallway and confess his love and we would go to prom and everything would be wonderful!
With each class I went to, I walked in expecting – I don’t know what.
But nothing happened.
Then, it was time to go to gym.
As I headed across the gym floor to the girl’s locker, my dad was heading out of the boy’s locker.
He greeted me with a big smile.
“Hi honey! Did you get my rose?”
I gulped. “Rose?”
“Yes, I sent you a rose!”
At that moment, I wanted to die. Just someone, please drown me in the locker room shower.
But I know my dad really meant well. Looking back, my dad just wanted to send his little girl a rose. But then, the 17-year-old me just died on that shiny gym floor.
“Thanks, dad,” I said, and I think I even smiled. Because I knew he meant well. But when you’re in high school, with the sweatshirts and ankle bracelets, a rose given to you by dad is well, not all that – womantic.