If Ever I Should Leave

Written By: Patti Leber

After the glitz of East Hampton you drive almost too far on the stretch. It looks barren and uninviting, no elm trees, no manicured lawns, only the shrubs. It hardly seems worth the drive. The space narrows. Trees appear again and then after you wish you had that second cup of coffee, there is an opening in the road. As your eye stretches forward you see why you came the distance. The blue ocean is so majestic and complimented by the yellow motel, with the town nestled in the background. You take a deep cleansing breath. You’re home. You know you are at a beach town. The streets are lined with T- shirt shops, and gourmet food on main street is pizza. The Ronjo statue makes you feel like you have stepped back into a simplier time. There is a line waiting to be served a round of Mr. John’s pancakes. There are no suits here. Anywhere you look you see water, from the grammar school, around the pond, or by the lake with the fishing boats. People are still making a living off the land and water. The Long Island Rail Road ends here, but somehow it is also a beginning. Tucked in the Tudor style, there represents a rich sense of history. This was supposed to be a playground for the rich and famous. The road around the golf course was meant to be a racetrack, the Playhouse a tennis auditorium, the Manor a polo ground and the Seven Sisters, houses for the elite few. Second House brings remembrances of earlier times of cattle grazing, and of Montaukett Indians with quahog shells. But somehow all of that falls away and what is left is a community. It is seemingly like Brigadoon. A step back in time and when the tourists leave in September or maybe October, the town reappears. I am often reminded of the Lucy show where she is in the country and the man behind the motel desk keeps changing his hat depending on what she needs, be it the post office, a judge, or the motel owner. People here wear more than one hat. The principal of our local school once owned Pizza Village. The teachers instruct swimming or waitress in the summer. Whatever it takes to stay in abeyance of the rat race. This is a place where you can take deep breaths and see the horizon. You are on island time here. Things are at a slower pace. Who knows, so your lawn doesn’t get cut because the surf is up, but you do know the wind direction and speed. It is constantly blowing here. But then, that is what makes it cooler in the summer, and when it stops, it seems if something is amiss. As a local you recognize everyone’s cars, as if it is their trusty steed. And when your steeds pass one another, you raise your hand, as if to lift your visor and acknowledge them with a nod. We knowingly built our house carved out of the woods. And yet every spring nature tries to reclaim what was once hers. Sometimes I see strange insects wanting to get in, as if I was the intruder not them. Although it is the community I cherish, it would be remiss not to mention the sound of the waves and the sunsets of vibrant colors that calm the day and bring it to an end. At times the harvest moon dwarfs all else. And for me, there are always the bonfires with the smell of ashes, the taste of smores and the sand melting away.