All The Same
All The Same Old and tired is how I feel – not everyone who spends summers in the Hamptons is perky and bubbling with energy. Having just turned 54, I wish everything would just stop, that time would freeze. Imagine the Friday night eastbound Hamptons traffic coming to a halt. The Benzes and Beemers all frozen in the fast, but always slow, lane. The people in them all frozen —holding their cell phones and or Starbuck iced lattes firmly in one hand, while hanging onto the wheel with the other. I could breathe easier if this were to happen. I would have a chance to catch up with them as I sit in my ten year old, grayish color, Honda Pilot, with the broken passenger side air vent that my kids kicked in many years ago. This would allow me time to process all that has happened at rapid fire pace, to and around me, since my last summer in the Hamptons. My son is now a funny teenager. My daughter survived her first year of high school and my step-dad spent a year moving back and forth between the VA hospital and the nursing home where he will celebrate his 82st birthday tomorrow. My mother is recovering from Transverse Myelitis, a complication from Shingles, and my sister lost her home to Sandy. She still pays the mortgage and pays rent for a room. My family grieves for my sister who, unexpectedly and tragically, died this year. My nephew is trying to adjust to a life without his mom, his best friend. He has no siblings or father. I am trying to gather up the strength to see her headstone. It was placed next to my brother’s headstone. He died at age 41, ten years ago. My 51 year old brother-in-law continues to work long hours as a hospital maintenance supervisor, despite his constant and severe post-stroke headaches. Susan Lucci is turning 67. I learned that she’s a “grand-milf” from a blurt out of my callow son, watching her on News 12. Very nice, I thought to myself. What kind of kid did I raise? I twisted my head to look into a large wall mirror, which I had hung behind the sofa to make the impossibly small family room in our Shelter Island cottage appear larger— which it doesn’t. I examined my face carefully. I don’t have Susan’s flawless skin, that’s for sure. I don’t have her shiny, dark, perfectly styled hair and I am not size negative two. She looks so happy and relaxed. Me, none of the above. She is married 43 years! Did I hear that right? How does that happen? Me, 15 years and searching frantically for backup husbands. I have always been a firm believer in backups. My marriage is like worn threads of a Scottish lace panel, ignored for years while hanging in the harsh sunlight. I can’t seem to hold the little threads together no matter how hard I try. It takes two people, one to hold and one to stich. I am holding and stitching–holding and stitching still more. I look and feel foolish. It is not working. But the summer Hamptons air is sweet. I breathe the same air as Susan Lucci does when she’s relaxing in her Quogue home. Common ground. I feel better now. Oh and I breathe the same air that Sarah Jessica Parker does when she is in Amagansett. Common ground. This is good. It can’t be that bad if I breathe the air they do, right? But look at them and all the other talented, wealthy, perky, and beautiful Hamptons people. Look at the actors, the directors, designers and artists. Many are engaged in creative and positive projects. Or so it seems. Their art hangs in the East End galleries. They appear to know what color their parachute is. Me, I don’t have a parachute. I am free falling, spinning fast and out of control, waiting to crash my skull into the pavement hard and furious. My broken, bloodied body may even look like art if my remains are photographed correctly, and in the right light. Let Ilona Swarz photograph me if this happens. She will make my death into art even though my life is no Vermeer. Despite our “way-too-together” appearance as we frolic in the bucolic Hamptons, I know that few of us live perfect lives. Yeah sure, a lot of people drive beautiful cars, but not everyone owns them. The real wealthy drive the roadsters, black or silver and devoid of the “white oval” that reads, “MTK, WHB, or SI”. They don’t need a decal or magnet to show they hang in the Hamptons; they have the car. OK, they have the palatial estate too. But they also have worries, problems, pain and tragedy. They too have the same crappy marriages with all the “untruths” and breaches of trust. They have the extended family drama, and their own drama as well. Silent grief is not mine alone. The real rich, the rich, the well-off, the regular guy/gal, the poor, the famous, the well-known and the rest of us unknowns, take all our baggage with us when we summer in the Hamptons. It is us. We are shaped not just by our Pilates instructor but also by our experiences. And despite all our stress, problems, pain, differences, wealth or debt, when our car rolls onto the South Ferry, we are all in the same boat. Kathleen Enright.