Love at First Sight

Written By: Maureen Judge

I had been looking for love, as most women do after divorce…online mostly, and yes, there are plenty of fish out there…I just had not found the right one for me yet. But I am tenacious, and at 54 years young I still felt I had  much to offer this love I had yet to find. So, last August, while I was out east, visiting my sister and her fiancé at their home on Squiretown Road, I would finally find the love I was looking for right there on Squiretown Road in Hampton Bays.

Living and working full-time in Nassau, I find it so very peaceful and relaxing to come out east on weekends. I have been coming out here with my parents for vacations since my siblings and I were young. My parents eased us into the “out east” life by renting houses for a week in the summer, until one day they bought a summer home in Jamesport near the Peconic Bay. It was idyllic for a water lover like me and the perfect place for family gatherings. When I got the chance I would head to the south fork to sun and swim in the ocean beaches near Montauk and Amagansett, as well as attend wonderful performances at the playhouse in Sag Harbor, and go out for a bite to eat with all the fine dining that abounds there.

That August morning we all got up early to go antique hunting at a garage sale nearby and as we drove exactly twenty two seconds from the house I suddenly screamed, “Wait! Stop!” startling everybody in the car. “There is an open house right there…so close! I have to see that house!”

My sister was eager to get on with the hunting and kept driving saying, “We can catch it on our way back later!”

“NO!” I screamed, “Stop now…please! I have to see it! There may not be a later!”

My sister, is also my identical twin and we are very close; we were womb mates for heaven sakes, and thankfully, she heeded my cry, understanding that there must be a valid reason for me to be so adamant. She turned the car around and as we pulled into the pebbled driveway, I came face to face with what would soon be the new love of my life…a house…a little cottage to be exact. It was love at first sight!

She had a weathered, stormy grey cedar siding with white trim and scallops on top. Her windows were original and I doubt they even opened. Her roof was raw and in need of a whole removal…but her door…a bright, cherry red…redder than any lipstick I would dare wear…cried out, “I am gorgeous!” And to me she was!

I ran out of the car and walked through an arbor covered with ivy, which led me into the backyard where I was immediately swept into a quaint English garden with a white, cast iron table and chairs set up as though ready for tea. The backyard had a garage, turned artist studio, and an outdoor fireplace to keep warm on cool nights. As I moved further in, I saw the side property and, moving down stone steps, I came to a spacious yard filled with trees and moss and green ground cover and no grass, which meant no mowing a lawn!

The realtor came out and introduced herself as Doreen and I immediately saw Doreen as my matchmaker for sure! Everything she told me about the house made me love her more. Built in 1938, she had beautiful stone work below her cedar siding, most likely ballast stones from the great ships sailing into Sag Harbor and used to build homes because these stones were readily available. There was definitely a history here and I loved history. I also loved how the property was on a hill and sloped down into the expansive side yard. I fell in love with her yard.

Once inside, I saw that the kitchen was painted a light peachy pink, like Bermuda sand, with white cabinets and fairly new white appliances. There was also a sliding door leading to a deck outside that made me feel like I was in a tree house. Wind chimes sang in the breeze and it was the most beautiful song…our romance had clearly begun.

Every room beckoned me. I was so impressed with her vaulted ceiling in the living room, two full bathrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs with a laundry room. There were also two cozy rooms downstairs for sleeping and one of the rooms even had a working stone fireplace made from more ballast stones.

As I toured the house, Doreen told me about the former owner, a single woman from Manhattan, who died recently and, having had no heirs, left her home to charity. I learned she loved art and gardening and was interested in other cultures and that she had traveled around the world…I mean really traveled the world! There was a National Geographic push pin map on one of the walls near the back door and I am not kidding when I say there were at least 100 pins representing all the many countries she had traveled to. I also noticed her extensive library with books on art, gardening, health, culture, self-help, real estate, religion, money, sex…so many fiction and nonfiction texts covering shelves everywhere, and being a reading specialist and an avid reader myself, I just knew this was a sign this house was for me. My sister and friends thought so too! “This house is so you Maureen!” they told me as we followed Doreen around the house.

With my heart beating incredibly fast, I made an offer, which turned out to be so low that it was immediately rejected. I felt ashamed at offering such a measly amount for the new love of my life, but I also knew I would need money to restore her. I thought I had ruined my chance, but remember, I am tenacious! Over the next few weeks I negotiated back and forth with my lawyer until, on September 13th, my 55th birthday, my final offer was accepted and I became the proud owner of this amazing little cottage in Hampton Bays. Besides my twin sister, this cottage will always be my best birthday present ever.

So I closed on the cottage in November and I have been coming out on weekends ever since. I have given her a new roof and new windows and I have furnished her rooms in a nautical, beachy, cottage chic style that has made her more beautiful to me than I ever imagined. Every time I come out here I walk around and I so appreciate everything around me. I make my way 1.3 miles to the north and I am on a glorious stone beach of the Peconic Bay, across from the shore I used to look over from when I was in Jamesport. When I head a little over 5 miles to the south I have the Atlantic Ocean, which takes my breath away with her majestic size and beauty. I am so lucky to have the best of everything right here.

As with any new relationship, we have had our rocky moments…such as the unexpected intruder in the middle of the night wearing a dark mask, but fortunately the man from Nuisance Wildlife Control was amazingly proficient at removing the raccoon who got into the attic through an uncovered vent on the new roof. But even with that, I have not stopped smiling since the day I found her…my little cottage in Hampton Bays…a 22 second drive from my twin sister’s house…my very own little cottage…my home now…where I plan to live happily ever after.