The blissful memories of my past are slowly fading


A photo of the sun setting over the lake.

Every summer growing up, I had one thing to look forward to, until I didn’t; until my fondest memories gradually turned into a distant dream that I can only look back upon with a loving gaze.

Up until I was ten, my extended family rented a house on Lake Michigan during the last week of August. It was known to me as simply, ‘the beach house.’ I can’t recall much from the summers of my childhood, but I certainly remember the beach house. When school began, starting earlier in the year, we were forced to stop the annual trips as they directly overlapped with the first week.

That house wasn’t just a house to me. It felt like a whole other plane of existence. There was a loft that my cousin and I would spend the majority of our time in, playing make-believe and doing whatever kids do. 

In the house, there was a room with a projector that we spent every night watching movies in. I remember it so vividly. Sometimes my older siblings and cousins would want to watch a PG-13 movie and me and my other cousin my age would be forced to watch our movie of choice on my mom’s laptop. Nonetheless, all the memories of trudging up the stairs, half-asleep after a movie, are irreplaceable.  

There was always a puzzle in progress on the dining table. I’d like to say I had helped, but a glance at the pile of un-placed pieces made it too daunting to even try. 

Obviously, there was the beach, which was accessible by a flight of endless stairs. I wish I could say those stairs taught me to be patient, but they didn’t. I was in such a rush to jump into the lake, and every time I went, they seemed to get longer. 

Being at the beach house was the first time I truly experienced time flying by. The feeling of pulling up to the driveway was the happiest I’d ever felt, and leaving put me in a state of denial that’d last for another week or so. Each year, I slowly gained a stronger understanding that it was only a week and that it would be the shortest week of the entire year. But while I was there, I was in paradise.

By then, I might’ve forgotten about the bonfires or the times we viewed Rio in the movie room or the games we’d play in the sand or the hammock on the patio.

I knew exactly what each day would entail, to an extent. We’d wake up, go to the beach, hang out, watch a movie, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. If I could go back, I wouldn’t do a single thing differently, and I miss it. 

Every year, these memories seem to fade farther and farther away. But I don’t want them to turn into a faraway dream. That’s part of why I’ve chosen to write this now, instead of waiting for a future time when I can confidently write this column better than I feel I can write it right now. By then, I might’ve forgotten about the bonfires or the times we viewed Rio in the movie room, or the games we’d play in the sand or the hammock on the patio. It’s all in the past, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if it’s better this way. Just because the beach house was the best part of my childhood doesn’t mean it’d still be the highlight of my year if I went again. Would it lose its rarity if I returned every year? Would the seemingly blissful repetition slowly turn into boredom? Would the sweet innocence of my time there fade as I aged?

Maybe it is better as a monument of the past. When I look back, all I see is comfort. I find comfort in the warmth of the sun, the golden sand, the overflowing laughter, and the memories made. I want to leave it like that.