Being Local

Written By: Shelly  Bredau

Growing up on the North Shore of Long Island to me was divine; waterskiing, sailing in the bay, easy drives to Jones Beach and South Hampton for ocean day excursions, I loved the water!

Post college I moved to the city, met my husband and when I was pregnant with our first child I asked him “ where should I be looking for a home, Westchester (he was from Hastings-on-Hudson) or Long Island? When he told me he would never move out of the city I was devastated. A year after our first daughter was born we were fortunate enough to make all of our desires materialize by purchasing a home way up in the North West Woods in East Hampton. Being a school teacher, I would pack up the car for the summer the last day of school and head out East with my two daughters and only return, in tears, the start of the new school year.

One summer, 18 years ago, I received a phone Invitation from my friend, Laurie, whose children were at the same school as my daughters and also summered in East Hampton. It was her husband’s birthday in early June and she was inviting me and my husband to a dinner celebration. Before the dinner party I called to see if there was anything I may bring. “Nothing” was the response, however, she did want to let me know that she does not sit spouses next to one another and I’d be sitting next to one of her husband’s friends who is a Local. Turns out that Laurie and Phil grew up summering in East Hampton and Phil was a surfer, and a lifeguard a Georgica Beach. His friend Steve, “the Local” was a surfer and they knew one another from days spent at Georgica in the water.

Laurie is a great entertainer and hostess. Not only is she a good cook but she is also highly finessed at the art of creating a great table and making sure the flow of events for a memorable evening are in place. I always felt to happy to get her annual phone call inviting me and my husband to Phil’s birthday dinner and hearing her aside that I would be sitting next to Steve, the local. Of course after a few years I began to consider Steve a very nice acquaintance as I would see him at the gym or around town.

One year I came to the dinner party alone. I was going through a divorce and Laurie insisted that I come regardless that I was “alone”. I did show up but really didn’t make it through the dinner party, Stephen was not at my side that night but another “single” man was and I quite sadly couldn’t make it through the dinner, which is terribly rude!

Amazingly enough I was invited back the following year. I was stronger and more emotionally stable and Stephen was sitting next to me AND for the first time he did not have a date with him. We were both the ‘singles”. The other guests at the table like to tell the story that it was as if Stephen and I were the only one’s at the table. We locked eyes and only spoke to one another as if it was a date tete a tete. Also terribly rude! He told me he had just bought a Grady White and I think I squealed with excitement that I really missed water skiing. It was a date.

We did go out on the boat but actually never got to the waterskiing.

It was a summer of packing the truck up to cook on the beach, going out on the boat, gardening, harvesting, cooking, going to local events at Ashwag Hall, meeting so many of his groovy friends. Returning to the city in September was heartbreaking. I came out each weekend. It was always filled with farming, cooking and spending time with friends. I couldn’t go back to the city anymore. I needed to be in East Hampton. Yes to be with Stephen, it’s nice to share life with somebody but really because the beauty of the soil, the bays, the ocean, the light, the “locals” it’s all so intoxicating I couldn’t imagine why I didn’t deserve that happiness. I’ve been a “local” now for three years although I’ve been told by many of my friends here I’m not allowed to say I’m a local until I’ve proven I have some bonac blood.

I guess knowing where to buy local scallops, oysters and blue fish tails, not in a store, doesn’t really have the local currency that a bloodline does!