Mucky, Lucky Duck/Swan

Written By: Michele Salt Horn

So, 2017 was not a banner year.

She withstood some major hits in quick succession and in fact, she could no longer withstand it. There was much ado about 2016 being cruel which had a lot to do with politics, hate crimes and a spate of celebrity deaths.

But for her 2017 was much more personal. Because the hits were direct.

Uncharacteristically unable to bounce back, she had become immobilized. And though she was acutely aware of this, she was completely powerless to move forward. And worse, she didn’t want to.

Those close to her tried valiantly to rally around her, rah rah her, and restore her to former glory but alas, she was mired in muck in a place far, far away, too far, far away, to reach. And besides, she wasn’t entirely sure that people really want to reach you when you’re mucky.

She no longer recognized herself and knew she should care, but she didn’t.

Then her daughter said six words, “I’m taking you to East Hampton.”

Well, really, there were a lot of words but those were the ones that stood out.

Though it was her favorite place on Earth, in her not quite catatonic state, it seemed very abstract. She knew these words should evoke a very happy and excited response, but she didn’t feel it. Feigning some light enthusiasm and a smile because she knew it was appropriate but she did not/could not feel a thing.

Her daughter rented a cottage for the month of August.

Preparing for her trip was not daunting at all. Mostly because she simply didn’t care.

She half-heartedly packed her bag, giving no thought to how she might spend her time there. She expected she would mostly sit in the cottage. Did that count as a change of scenery?

Her son loaded her car – equally eager for her to become herself again, and to get rid of her for a few weeks – not necessarily in that order. He had borne the brunt of the burden that was now her.

She picked up her daughter in the city – and they continued together on their pilgrimage to what her daughter hoped was Mecca.

They arrived on a hazy, hot, sticky, August Friday.

The traffic wasn’t terrible but it probably wouldn’t have mattered if it had been. Even the usual Hamptons landmarks didn’t register with her as she passed them. Her apathy had swallowed her.

The one bedroom cottage was tiny but when they went inside, it was pleasantly adorable. Relieved to unload and unpack, they prepared to settle in for the month. She figured she would spend a lot of time here – the bulk of her time here. They opened a bottle of wine – rosé of course – because it was what everyone was drinking. At least that’s what her daughter told her. She was not paying attention to trends. She fell into her bed whose day job was a pull out couch and drifted into a rosé slumber.

Awakened when the blinds she had forgotten to close, let in the early morning sunlight, she wanted to go back to sleep but her daughter was already awake and milling around.

“So what are we going to do today?” Her daughter was way too chipper for before 8:00 AM on vacation.

Since her daughter had taken a rare week off from her extremely hectic job, she felt compelled to make sure that her daughter had a memorable stay. With some prodding from said daughter, they were up and out and at Jack’s coffee in Amagansett Square. Damn if the decaf didn’t taste like a little slice of heaven. What a difference a barista makes. The only commonality between this cup of joy and her daily homemade pot – was that they were both roughly the same color. From there it was straight to Main Beach. Her daughter was insistent and had packed a beach bag. And lunch. Thankfully, she had left her favorite yellow and white striped rolling beach chairs in her car trunk. They collected some of the prized, free, Hamptons magazines that were strategically scattered pretty much everywhere. She could not remember doing something as indulgent and simply pleasant as this, in such a too, very, long while.

She didn’t read the magazines on the beach. She didn’t have the focus for that. So she sat in her chair, took some deep breaths and tried to feel something.

Later, back at the cottage, she realized that she was starting to feel a little bit lighter. The weight of past seven month was so heavy and she had been carrying it around for so long, maybe she could put some of it down for even a little while.

After grilling dinner, her daughter insisted that they go out for drinks. That meant primping was in order. Primping that looks like you didn’t primp. So primp she did, and when she was ready, her daughter restyled her, then they brazenly set out to secure seats at the bar at Nick and Toni’s.

VICTORY! Well, it wasn’t immediate, but that night the odds were ever in their favor. It was about time something went her way. However small, she would accept it gratefully.

A skillfully mixed elixir of cucumber vodka, watermelon and other ingredients she couldn’t recall glided down her throat and for the first time, made her cognizant that it was her vacation,too. So she had another one.

The next day she awoke early, even though she had remembered to close the blinds, the night before.
They drove to Bridgehampton where her daughter had signed up for a workout class. She dropped her off and walked around. Finding her way into RJD Gallery, she was taken with the works of two artists. So much so, that she left with papers on each of them.

Wandering past Thayer Hardware she remembered when it was The Penny Whistle and she would give her kids $10 each and they would search the baskets that lined the shelves for cheap treasures. Impulsively, she decided to give herself a cheap gift. Her daughter had to return to NY after her week off but would be coming back out on weekends, thereafter. Her daughter urged her repeatedly, to stay in the cottage as it would be empty and hers for the month until Labor Day. So she doubled back and got a key made. So she could stay. She chose a pink plastic key chain and attached it to her car key.

Wait, was she actually feeling happy?

That night, they were invited to a bbq with a group of ten friends. She had pretty much sequestered herself at home – socially and otherwise. But her friend and her daughter were not taking no for answer. They went, they ate, and they played a hilarious board game until almost midnight. She was laughing out loud. Audibly.

The next day, before heading to the beach, they went to the Springs Art Show and bought some books across the street at the Springs Library book sale. Four books for a dollar. She wanted to read again. That evening was spent at the Montauket, watching the blazing sunset. She loved the applause the followed it and the mussels that preceded it. And she had styled herself that evening.

Off to dinner at Gosman’s for a magnificent orange moon rise and a waterside table, and she was very aware that she could feel again. Because she was happy. Genuinely happy.

The week of her rebirth included music at Talkhouse, a wine tasting at Wolffer, breakfast at Gurney’s, and drinks on a friend of a friend’s enormous yacht.

Her daughter had brought her back to life with the best medicine possible. The Hamptons. And love.

She was a lucky duck who felt like one of those beautiful swans that you see when you approach East Hampton.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mallory. And yes, we are going to perform Dixie Chicks at karaoke night on Wednesday.