By Joan Summo
There is nothing like being at sea level. You feel different. You feel good. You just feel right. Why? I don’t know. You just do.
I learned this at an early age. I am a CT girl, born and bred. I grew up thinking Long Island Sound was the ocean. I know, I know – salt water does not make a body of water an ocean. As a kid, if a storm was coming, dad would pack us into the car and drive to the beach so we could see the “big waves”. It was great! Huh, what did I know? I was just a kid.
Time passes on. I move 30 miles north to New Fairfield, CT because I simply cannot afford to live “on the water”. Three children and one “disappointing” husband later, I meet a wonderful guy who’s divorce mirrors mine – full of the same basic “bull”. We become friends and move forward from there.
So, one day Joe asks me “You ever been to Montauk?” I said “Where’s Montauk”. His wide grin said it all. He proceeded to tell me stories about his high school days heading out to Montauk with friends for the weekend at “Jennifer’s” parents summer house. Her parents loved having a houseful of kids. They often extended out to the yard with tents. He loved it! This Montauk sounded interesting.
So, we set the date and head out to Montauk, Long Island, New York. We pass through the Hamptons – “so, these are the Hamptons” I comment as we stop at every corner for crossing pedestrians. When we pass Cyril’s and Lunch the landscape takes on a decidedly more “beachy” flavor. The scrub brush and dunes are bringing a smile to my face. We crest the hill into town and what do I see? OCEAN! Real, live OCEAN with waves and sand and sunshine!! What a sight.
We drive into the little hamlet-type town that is Montauk and turn right to Emerson Ave. Joe takes me to the Royal Atlantic. As we exit the car, a loud rumble and moist breeze turn my attention from our luggage. “What’s that noise?” I ask. “Joan,” he says with eyebrows raised “the ocean”? I ran up the public access to the beach and stopped mid stride. There before me were waves bigger than anything I’d ever seen back in Ct. The sun was sparkling off these greenish blue rolls of water. I was beside myself with joy, simply speechless. Joe walked up behind me. “Nice, huh.” He said. “Oh, my gosh. This is beautiful!” I gushed as I hugged him. I then ran unsteadily through the sand down to the water. Cold, very cold!!
That day, 14 years ago, began my love affair with a cute little town at the far end of Long Island. Montauk has come to represent a quiet respite from my busy daily world twice a year, more if I can swing it. We visit during May, before the summer crowds engulf the town, and the end of Sept., after the crowds have returned home. These are my special times to be out here. Montauks quiet demeanor gives me the opportunity to unwind. I relax in a way I can’t possibly do at home with all of the “to do’s” that surround me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little house in the woods. Living on a dirt road off a dirt road gives me the privacy I crave and the excitement of life in the woods. My gardens offer me great ease, if not a sore back. But Montauk – at ocean’s edge- offers me a piece of myself that is missing from the rest of the year. Ah, sea level.