Southampton: Major’s Path (age 5)
Sunday late afternoons Dad would lift me onto his bike and pedal through long green lanes to Sip N’Soda, where we’d lick matching banana cones. Wet creamy fruit on our tongues, we watched the parade of people: long tanned legs, khaki shorts, blue Izod shirts. It was the 70s: an ever-summer land. Pale pink light flickering between trees as he’d pedal me through town, plush green streets emptying out before supper. I was just five, and didn’t yet know about bruises on the heart or doors slammed. I couldn’t recall the dead of winter; only this cold creaminess on my tongue, his hand in mine.
East Hampton: Halsey’s Marina (age 15)
We got the news about Mark at 5 am in June out at Three Mile Harbor. I was fifteen, sleeping fitfully in my sleeping bag as the boat rocked and creaked. A knocking on the galley window, heavy footsteps. The weak sun’s cool fingertips layered over the water. Dawn. He’d been killed less than a mile away, his car wrapped around a tree, his body thrown instantly out the window: dead at 23. Over Japanese food the night before he’d told me about his new Wall Street job, his girlfriend. The only kind of brother I’d ever known. “Mark’s gone and killed himself,” I heard my stepfather say as he phoned his ex-wife. Time so slow, then fast. “No!” my mother screeched, her plaid nightshirt sticking in all the wrong places. “He was killed! Can’t you get the story straight?” As I waited for the Jitney to the city, the one that goes past the endless rows of graves, we sat wordlessly on the bridge of the boat and watched the sun climb. It seemed impossible, heartless in its mission. As did my senseless worrying about my new purple dress still in its box that was in the car when he died. How could I wear it to the wedding next week? I held my stepfather’s hand, imagining its cold tremble was a lemon so I could keep holding, keep hoping I could squeeze out all the pain, all the sour, leaving just the empty shell.
Amagansett: Marine Blvd. (age 32)
Alex and I take the train out after work, racing and sweaty through Penn Station. He holds my hand as we giggle our way past the Jamaica stop, the press of his arm against my side and anticipation as the roads clear to fields, the sun lowering over the miles of corn, light changing to hazy and summery, the city receding. At the house we strip our work clothes and race to the ocean before dinner, running along the sand. The surf breaking so perfectly on the shore as we toss a cracked white Frisbee. His mouth on mine tastes sugary, sand chilling our toes. At night I sleep in the bunkroom, crawling up to my safe place in the sandy red striped sheets, the ocean air so soft, his arm reaching out to touch across the beds. The salt air breezes across my face as I pretend to sleep longer, crashing waves in the distance.
Southampton: Scuttle Hole Rd (age 18)
Just about to leave for college, I spent a week with Hugues in the cottage Dad rented. Just us and a bag of groceries, a white rental car and this great lake of feeling. In matching striped fisherman’s shirts we stood in the driveway of The Palm as the day ended, sandy from the beach, laughing endlessly in the parking lot at the couples in pearls and blazers walking to and fro. Each night we drove to the ocean, dancing under the stars on the cold sand, singing The Smiths and David Bowie. The pale hair on his arms soft as the silk on the corn we shucked each night, the wanting so delicious. I counted down days: seven, six, five…maybe today he would kiss me. We slept in the basement, talking in the dark until sleep, waking to the same song. We were still so good there, driving to Montauk in the fog singing, but knowing that behind the music, there was an ending.