The Cape House

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The corner house on Cove Street was a castle atop a hill. Overlooking the bay, it was a summer home to my family for over 60 years. My great-grandpa had originally purchased the Victorian home with his best friend. Together their families grew with the home and new generations arose. Despite the creaky box-spring beds and bunny-ear TVs that suffered screaming and frustration by its onlookers, it was my favorite place growing up. The anticipation of turning the corner to find myself staring up at house number 28 was the greeting to all of my childhood summers. I can still feel the excitement, the adrenaline igniting the light in my eyes.

My grandpa used to say that we owned the bay. I marveled at the idea, I still do today. We used to take our boat and rafts out onto the bay for a day at sea, as do many “Cape Codders.” I would dance around the light pole on my hill and watch the water rise and fall gently on the shore. I can close my eyes and still feel the misty breeze blowing the wisps of my hair, the sun shining softly on my castle. We often slept on the porch in the heat of a summer’s night; awakening to the fresh scent of Cape Cod, birds singing their early morning songs. I keep this scene frozen in my mind; I find comfort in it.

No summer was complete without Cape Cod’s fresh saltwater taffy; a famous delicacy to the area. Taffy was shared as we walked the store-lined streets, or had barbecues in the backyard with the people on our block. The sweetness of Cape Cod was not only brought out in its taffy; it was brought out by its natives, its “Cape Codders.”

Although our summer home was in Onset, we enjoyed other parts of the Cape, too. We watched the 4th of July fireworks light up the sky over Hyannis, took a boat ride to Martha’s Vineyard, and drove out to the end, and very tip, of the Cape where the eclectic and vibrant Provincetown, or “P-Town,” is located. Life was good in Cape Cod and it seemed like everyone who visited fell in love with the area just as we had. But family members became ill, others who had loved the home long before I, had passed on long ago, and it was time to sell. The realities of life settled into our fantasy land; Great-Grandpa’s money needed to go to his ill son. The ominous “For Sale” sign went up, a white flag perched on a hill’s castle; surrender after a blissfully long battle.

People were interested in purchasing the home, questioning if the sink was ideal for washing dishes; ludicrously humorous, but infuriating. With a defensive ownership in my stride, a hollowness overtook my soul; I couldn’t imagine how my family felt that day. An ever burning flame of love and happiness was within the home’s walls, one that no one else could ever pinpoint or understand. These strangers didn’t know it was priceless; not a cheap, toy dollhouse that could easily be bought.

It sold.

Continuing to vacation in Cape Cod, unwilling to give up our love for the area, we made annual drives past the house. With each passing year it looked increasingly haunted; the once vibrant flame now a flicker; a spark still in our hearts. My great-grandfather’s bell was still swinging on the porch, his ghost beckoning us, the house looking frigidly dark in the midst of a warm summer’s day.

One year was different. As usual, we started up Cove Street, anticipating house number 28; beaming smiles, but sadness in our eyes, no longer lit up by adrenaline. At first the empty space didn’t register in our minds; the silence only broken by chirping birds. Then it hit us.

It was gone. The house was actually gone. Demolished. A pile of dirt. A void in space, and to me, a void in time.

We haven’t gone back since. Whether a mansion is built, or a shed, it wouldn’t matter. The fact is we wouldn’t be the ones building it; it wouldn’t be the same home. My family was the only one that truly enjoyed it. Others rented it, shifting it from hand to hand like an old burden. But now it’s gone, the burden buried, and my soul craves to dig it up. My parents, as well as other family members, had discussed re-purchasing the home after my great-grandfather sold it. We always came to the same conclusion: it wouldn’t be the same. The people we enjoyed it with wouldn’t be there, and there were not enough motives for us to re-purchase the home, to save it. Even the street name changed. But we have the keys, photographs, memories, even some of the people we shared it with. I still hear birds singing early morning songs; I smell summer’s air, but no song of any bird and no summer’s air will ever sound or smell as sweet as it had at The Cape House.

Elyssa Abuhoff is a fifteen-year-old sophomore in high school from Long Island, New York. She has always cherished New England, and it has inspired many of her poems and works of literature. She love writing, dancing, learning new things, and of course, being with the people she loves to share these things with.

  • Elyssa, your haunting portrait of what a PLACE can be in our lives is a treasure, and I thank you for allowing the hearts’ memories to be shared. My memory holds a collection of homes, all in New England, where bits of my family made special oases for a child to be joyful in. Keep writing…one day you will be the joy-maker.


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