The House at the Center of the Family

Birds chirping, wind blowing, balls bouncing. My grandparents’ backyard situated in North Andover, Massachusetts is the ideal place to visit during the dog days of summer. It lies between a quaint neighborhood park, which has recently been remodeled, and Sutton Street, the town’s busiest road. Children on bikes and babies in strollers race down the connecting road in front of the house waving to neighbors as they pass by.

The delicate structure of the house is intricate. It is painted red with a wall of rusty red bricks wrapping around a wide rectangular window in front of the living room. Above the white front door are engraved swirls that roll over each other like waves in the ocean. Behind this dainty cape style home lies a sparkling blue pool. The radiant red orange light from the searing summer sun floats above this pool’s crystal blue waters creating a milky orange juice appearance. My younger cousins wearing blue and green printed trunks fly high into the air as they jump from the diving board nearest the fence deep into the pool’s cooling water. Large water droplets dance through the air whenever one of their small scrawny bodies smacks the water. They reappear, shaking their heads back and forth, before swimming off to the shallow end to regroup with their cousins. Throughout the afternoon, they swim, laugh, and talk as our parents watch from green lawn chairs at the rear of the yard next to the black intertwined fence separating my grandparents’ yard from their neighbors’. My cousins, Emily, Ally, and Lucy, and I, surround the badminton court at the right of the pool. We break into teams- Lucy with Emily, myself with Ally- before we chase after the white feathered birdie, then hitting it with our elongated rackets as many times as we can in a row. We loop the birdie through the air, keeping it lifted off the ground.

Every other week during the summer, my family gathers at my grandparents’ house for family cookouts. We all like to get together during the summer; not just because the weather is ideal in the summer but also because that is the only time we are able to see them, besides Christmas of course. My immediate family and I live about two hours away from the rest of our family. Therefore, it is inconvenient for us to travel up to my grandparents’ house on the weekends. We can only visit on occasion due to these time reasons. So when we all get together, we treasure every moment. It is as if we had been together nonstop; we talk as if no time has passed. For instance, my cousin Ally and I have been best friends since we were born. We are only seven months apart; she was born in October 1997 and I was born in May 1998. And when we see each other, we give each other a big hug and go off into the my grandparents’ living room to discuss everything new and important that is occurring in our lives at the given moment. We have grown close over the years; we are almost inseparable to this day some might say.
When the sun sinks below the horizon after a long day of laughing in the pool and fooling around on the imaginary badminton court, my cousins and I adventure off to the basement with our wet chlorine drenched hair tied back in ponytails and our clothes anew. We sit in a circle on a soft red carpet that stretches across the entirety of the floor.

This is when we play games. One of our favorite games is called “commercials.” Commercials is a game which requires us to create our own product and create a convincing commercial for it. The goal of the game is to create the funniest, most entertaining commercial we can possibly think of. We only get a 30 second time slot and only two minutes to think of how we will advertise the imaginary product given to us. We can use anything we can find in the basement to better suit the commercial. Whoever comes up with the most entertaining commercial receives the privilege of being first in line for my grandfather’s fresh-off-the-grill cheeseburgers. It’s not much, but it’s definitely worth it when there are 20 other family members already lined up ready to gobble up his juicy cheeseburgers. Other games we play are “Dance 101” which is a game we play that showcases our stylish dance moves, and “House” which is a game we play with our youngest cousins and roleplay life as adults with children. However these games do not call for a winner, so no free cut-the-line passes are given. Our imaginary games of make believe have always been a great bonding opportunity for all of us.

North Andover, Massachusetts is a very important town in my life. It’s where immediate family originates from and my extended family currently resides. If it wasn’t for my grandparents’ house, I wouldn’t be so close with my family. Almost every family gathering takes place at their house. I have countless memories of my family at my grandparents’ house: swimming, badminton, walks to the neighborhood park, eating my grandfather’s juicy homemade burgers, or having silly competitions with my cousins. All of these have a special place in my heart. My family is very important to me and if it wasn’t for my grandparents’ house, we wouldn’t be so close.

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