House Interrupted

Written By: Karen  Amster-Young

It was an intense, warm embrace. The house wrapped its arms around me as I opened the door. It had been a long, almost-year apart. The unusually harsh winter still fresh in my mind, I rushed to turn off the alarm – always insecure about my dexterity with anything remotely technical. The green light illuminated brightly. Momentarily surprised it worked, it took a moment for me to relax. I was amazingly grateful for this moment. I was back at my house. I hugged back.

The incessant noise in my brain and from the Second Avenue subway construction slowly but steadily dissipated with each passing moment. This oasis on Eastern End of Long Island was only about two hours by car but more recently it may as well been in another country. Blizzards, Bat Mitzvahs and biopsies; wonderful milestones and snowballs and curveballs interrupted my usual, restorative visits these past months. Midlife and all that comes with it: aging parents, exhausting, beautiful kids. I guess it’s that thing we call life.

The air was brisk. The sky was clear. You could smell the month of May.

I think I forgot how beautiful it is out here.

I’d like to forget how harsh the winter was.

I felt incredibly thankful as I walked from room to room, putting on the lights, checking around. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter where you are trying to go, you just can’t get there. It doesn’t have to be a refuge two hours east: Sometimes just getting to the movies seems impossible. The calendar can seem hopelessly filled.

Then there is the mental gymnastics; the leap you have to take to just stop trying so hard and let go. Running away, getting away is not always easy. I thought about this for a moment. Don’t we take it for granted when we somehow find the time to run to the airport or run in the park?

Or maybe I missed the point of this place out east altogether?

Was it life’s curveballs or the calendar that prevented me from coming to restore and renew?

Was I waiting for everything to be perfect to take a break? It would be a long wait. I knew that.

Even during the busy summer season, we rush to and from the farmer’s market to fundraisers to martinis and Montauk and forget to look around – at least I do.

I stepped into my favorite little, celadon-colored room at the house to put on the television, a fresh stack of Hamptons newspapers and magazines in my hand, I threw them on the wooden coffee table and quietly congratulated myself for not compulsively scanning the weekend calendar, circling the Editor’s Picks like an addict. My cell phone rang. “We’re going to be in traffic for hours,” the familiar voice said on the phone. He sounded stressed from the week and I heard my 13 year-old daughter in the background asking, with envy, if I was already at the house. “Maybe we will just come in the morning,” he said. I stopped myself from feeling guilty. Why do women always feel simultaneously elated and guilty for having time alone?

For a moment I felt badly for them, attempting to leave Manhattan at 4 p.m. on a summer Friday. “Just relax and you will get here,” I said, trying not to say something like “Are you really surprised?” or “You should have left by noon” or any other, similarly-annoying statement we feel the illusion of freedom to say after many years of matrimony. Instead I simply finished the call and said, “Well, let me know what you are going to do.” He sighed and said he would call me within the hour.

I loved having no plans tonight.
I loved the solitude.
I loved that I may actually be alone until the morning.
I loved pouring my new favorite, newly discovered tequila and staying in for the night –in the Hamptons. I wasn’t rushing out to the art opening in town. I wasn’t rushing to the vineyard for a glass of the newest Pinot Grigio. I went in my backyard. I looked out over the farm field and stayed alone: Blissfully, incredibly, alone for approximately fifteen, uninterrupted hours. It was an intense, warm embrace.

I dozed on the couch. I felt old. Didn’t old people doze off? The phone rang. What time was it? I looked at the clock. 11 p.m.
“We’re at exit 70,” I heard him say.
For a moment I was selfishly disappointed. I wanted to sleep on the ultra suede couch, television blasting, tequila and Peanut M&M’s on the coffee table.
The door opened. I heard Lucy bark. She came too.
I was so happy. We were all back at the house.
House. Carry On.