More Than Halfway There
Back then, Rushmore was the movie, our friends came in droves and we turned the pool to 90 without thinking of the cost. Heat spiraled into darkness, cigarette smoke curled up with the burn of real tobacco, and one time they all made a horror movie in the woods after I had gone early to bed. Too much sun too much wine, too much sun and repeat. It starred Sandy’s girlfriend that we never saw again after that summer but I never forgot how she taught me to fold a fitted sheet. She had worked in a hotel at some point. A B&B I think. I feel like her name was Marilyn though perhaps it was Darien and that fitted sheet still sits on the top shelf so I can refer to it so many years later. I unfold it but never all the way. Just enough to see if I can replicate it. I must be forgetting a step. Or maybe the trick is in the first fold and I simply don’t have the courage to take it down to its raw self and start again. It’s a welcome sight that perfect fold on the top shelf. Something I breathe in when I arrive year after year.
Later the towers came down and our friends came again in droves and this time they stayed. Pass the Stargazer on your left and you’re more than halfway there. A mass two-week exodus because truly nobody knew where else to go. “Come to Moose Crossing” we said. That is what we called our house back then. A lovers’ understanding that I have long since forgotten the origin. We relayed this story the other night to a couple that came for a drink. A British couple we had bumped into at East Hampton Point beneath a light Memorial Day drizzle with a side of live music. Their children in private school with ours back in Jersey. They asked if it was scary here then and I answered that it was a wonderful two weeks. I don’t feel it was the answer they were looking for. But it was. Wonderful. We slept all together on the floor because a huddled mass in fear made more sense. We watched the news incessantly until we stopped and then went to Main to watch the ocean instead. Quietly amazed we all were at how the tide continued on with its relentless pursuit of the shore even though the world had seemingly come undone. Barry wore an old grey hoodie stolen shamelessly from a high school boyfriend, John smoked cloves from fingerless gloves and Mollie held the Karate Kid pose for a really long time on the post while the rest of us ate Tate’s with a thermos of coffee. She was wrapped in a blanket that hung just so and she perched just long enough to get the most beautiful picture. It shows up now and again on Throwback Thursday. A memory from 2001. I wouldn’t bother trying to show that to the British couple. They won’t know Mollie. Neither do we anymore. But her steadiness and her depth were extraordinary. She was so misunderstood.
Back then the Red Horse Market was in its first rendition, Osteria Salina was Saracen and Scoop du Jour was but a standing room only must-do where Starbucks has now taken root spread its wings and grown. Back then, Theory was owned by the Contessa; wanton and barefoot she rose, her porch door slamming quick behind you demanding your attention and your respect. They had a wonderful something there and now I can’t quite remember what it was. Something I went regularly for. Perhaps it was a bread. A chocolate maybe. A delicacy of that I am certain. Something orgasmic in its simplicity and devious in its underhanded slant towards sinful. The Contessa was like that. Summer was like that. Youth, yes. Was like that. Being privy to weekend only delights packaged with just the right balance of hushed prestige and homespun tradition to keep it elegant… and yet seductively hedonistic. Wanting for more. Like a forbidden lover’s hand the allure of East Hampton dwelled, resting only inches from the small of your back urging you to slow down, to back up, to stay; a fiery combination of just within reach and tantalizingly unattainable. I don’t happen upon mystery like that very much at 41 though I do seek it out in the crevices of stories, steady eyes, those that listen and the spoken word. (I am 44 of course, thus properly revealing myself as a terribly unreliable narrator so late in the story but I simply cannot seem to commit to the number). I am sure my own balance could be called into question as well, though I am fairly certain I’m the better version of me now much to the dismay of others. Perhaps it comes with the territory. Change.
When Rushmore was the movie, I would race to cover up before the landscaper came. Now I don’t even lift my hat. Sprawled there in thong underwear that have somewhere along the line become fair game as a bathing suit, I am surrounded by two dogs, a bustling husband, two children that barely need me they’ll come back they’ll come back and a book or six that lay massacred, wet and resilient in their command of my attention. I have accepted now that I ingest books in the summer they way others ingest fries; selfishly hoarding them for my own, tossing those that don’t speak to me immediately with the perfect combination of salt, heat and texture. Time is of the essence and my mind is endlessly seeking saturation. A bottomless pit that churns mantras as the heat grows. She would and she could and she did and she will.
I took the time on Saturday to write in the guest ledger at the new BookHampton. Thank you, I wrote in a confident “I’ve been here for more than 20 years” scrawl, when it would have been more fitting to lay down my chest on the page and expel into the very fibers my gratitude. I asked multiple times if the new owner was there. I would have kissed her, hugged her, climbed atop her even. Made a fool of myself my children would shudder. But within me dwells this overwhelming need to explain to her the worth of her world. At the risk of being incredibly trite, the courage it takes to unfold the sheet. Her glorious salute to the fabric that runs through the core of that mystical town or perhaps to her true calling that simply got the best of her…to either I bow down. I will think on her during my 6 am loop from Main to Egypt to Hollow and back, across that lush landscape surrendering with mercy to a broad and insistent fog morning after morning like an exhausted lover waiting patiently for her chance to breathe and grow green. Majestic she rises. The people run by and I don’t feel the need to follow now in an endless pursuit of tan to tone to tan to tone. I nod to them as I pass in my car slowly, my hands wrapped around a steaming cup of my one true religion. I recognize now that which is sustainable. And that which is not.