On their honeymoon, my parents biked across the United States, beginning their journey in Middletown, New York and ending it in Aberdeen, Washington. My parents say that once they arrived in Aberdeen, they fell in love with the area and decided to make it their home, our home. In making Aberdeen our home, my parents left the rest of our New York based family behind. My mom comes from a large, traditional Italian family, the Zazzeros, and it was hard for her to leave them. In order to stay in touch with her brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, great uncles, cousins of great aunts, step-cousins of great uncles, and everyone else who made up the Zazzero family, we take a yearly trip back “home” to New York. These trips home are chaotic to say the least. One Christmas visit was particularly dysfunctional; the stockings caught fire, a family dog ate my cousin’s brand new ipod, and the basement flooded. Needless to say, we always return from our yearly “vacations” in need of well, a vacation.
Keeping with the tradition of being stressful, disorderly, and unforgettable, was the vacation of 2006. This was the year that the entire Zazzero family rented a beach house together on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The four hour car ride from Middletown to our house on the Island was an experience in itself. After loading 20 or so children ranging in age from three to 17 into minivans, we began our journey. Bathroom stops were made as often as possible, but it would not be a Zazzero family vacation without at least a few accidents; screams of “Mommy Mommy, I need a bathroom NOOOOW!” followed moments later by sighs of “never mind, I don’t need one anymore,” were heard multiple times throughout the drive.
After one long, wet, and smelly car ride, we arrived at the house. It was amazing. Included with the house was a swimming pool, hot tub, boat, and of course, beachfront access. Midnight swims in the pool were taken nightly by myself and the rest of the family’s teenagers and our friends, until we discovered that our younger relatives used the pool as a convenient place to relieve themselves when the walk from the beach into the house was too much of a hassle. Sometimes, after long days on the beach, we would relax in the hot tub. This soothing activity resulted in itchy, red, bumps, which we later dubbed the “Family Rash,” on our arms and legs. The boat was used once for crabbing, but after the two, small, crabs that we had caught left an unremovable stench in the house, it remained tied to the dock for the rest of the trip.
The most enjoyed feature of the house was its beachfront access. While the house’s other amenities resulted in discomfort and sometimes disgust, the beach did not. Instead it resulted in tans and friendships. It was remarkable to me how quickly bonds were made while at the beach. Without the stresses of work and school, everyone was more friendly and open; within a day at the beach, we had formed a “beach family” with our fellow vacationers. After our vacation on the Jersey Shore was over, we never saw our beach family again. Nor did we see the house on the Island. Our tans have long since faded and with some medicated ointment, so did the Family Rash, but one piece of the 2006 vacation remains instilled in all of us; the memories.
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