Written By: Randy Benivegna

There are numerous words I can think of to describe the Hamptons: Warm. Peaceful. Welcoming. Charming. Sublime. Exquisite. Majestic. But the word I prefer most is home. My family has been traveling to the Hamptons since the year I was born. From 1987 to 2013, I’m proud to say the Hamptons have been a major part of my history. As I’m writing this in the month of May, it’s been five years since I officially moved to Montauk. After spending many summers here, I decided it was time to make the move. And as of this Monday, it will be thirty years that my grandparents have owned property here. I’ve forged so many memories here that the concept of squeezing them down into a few small paragraphs seems absurd. When I think of the east end, I think of peace and harmony. I picture pristine beaches with sparkling ocean water. I think of the surfers catching the waves at Ditch Plains. I think of the big crowds that gather for the parties, the parades, and of course the big Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. I think of those Hampton windmills that have stood the test of time. I think of the Montauk lighthouse and the town gazebo, two prominent symbols of a town I’m pleased to call home. My Aunt Angela and her bridal party had their pictures taken at that gazebo on her wedding day. On that day, I was given the honor of being the ring bearer. I must have done a good job because not too long after that I played the same role at my Aunt Charlene’s wedding. Thirty years ago, my grandparents had the option to move anywhere. But they chose to settle down in Montauk. From the active summer season to the dead of winter, they stayed for it all. They stayed because they felt this was where they belonged more than any place in the world. People used to say to my grandfather, “You must go bored out of your mind in the wintertime. What do you do out there with no one around?” His response was, “Anything we want, or nothing at all.” If they wanted to grab a bite to eat, they had a few local establishments to choose from. If they wanted to stay in and eat dinner by the roaring fireplace, they did. If they wanted to stroll along the vacant beaches to collect beach glass (my grandma’s favorite hobby) and enjoy the tranquil scenery, they had the option. And there was always the shopping center in Bridgehampton and the stores in East Hampton to keep them occupied. They didn’t always need huge crowds or flashy outdoor attractions to keep them entertained. They made their own fun. They had their home and they had each other, and that was more than enough for them. The rest was merely a bonus. I cherished those summers I spent by their side. My fondest memories are the barbeques and annual pig roasts my grandpa used to throw. Those lazy summer days I spent lounging on the beach with my cousins. When you’re young and you don’t have to work, every day of summer is a beach day. Grabbing a bite to eat at Fierro’s Pizzeria and then catching a movie at the East Hampton Theater. But my favorite memory is when we all gathered on the beach to watch the Fourth of July fireworks with the whole town. Notice how I said, “The whole town.” That’s the unique thing about the east end. There’s this constant sense of closeness, camaraderie. Anywhere you go, you’re bound to bump into somebody you know. People are always smiling, laughing. They’re always friendly, happy to see each other. You don’t really see that everywhere you go nowadays. Times have changed, people have changed. But the east end remains the same. Much like my grandparents, I feel welcome here. I feel like I belong. The memories I have will never be replaced. And every day is another opportunity to add new memories to the collection. And even if I left here today, those memories would carry on for a lifetime. You can take me out of the Hamptons, but you can never take the Hamptons out of me.