My Hamptons Heart
I still remember the panic I felt when I took the letter from my landlord out of my post office box at the East Hampton post office. My usual daily routine to cleverly park on the street and not fight for a spot at the CVS—with the bonus of getting my mail—turned into that moment every renter dreads. I took a deep breath and tore open the envelope. “Dear Ms. Azarian, We regret to inform you that we have decided to make our house available for our personal use at the end of your lease. Sincerely, Mr. & Mrs. Landlord.” I found myself gasping for air, feeling panic and worry as the dread of the possibility of having to move back to New York City terrified me. I know I was lucky to have five years in my home renting year-round at an affordable rate, but I wasn’t ready to let it go. I felt, and treated the house, as if it were my home. It was my home, dammit! “How could they do this to me,” I thought, as I fought back tears on the way back to my car. I pulled into my driveway as I had so many times before with a sense of gratitude, but this time sobbing uncontrollably. I knew of the horror stories of finding a year-round rental out here. I knew I had an overwhelming and potentially disappointing task ahead of me. I had to get strong and do it fast, but I couldn’t help but feel paralyzed by anxiety about what my future would hold. I felt grief for the loss of this house, as if an old friend had just told me they were passing away. I was stricken with sadness. My mind would drift to the beginning of my love affair with East Hampton. I remember the first time I walked into the house with my real estate broker. It was only partially furnished which worked really well for me. It was so bright that I had to squint to look at the backyard. There was a pool! As a Manhattan girl, I was just so excited at the thought of living in a house—a real house! After I moved in I remember one of my favorite things to do was go upstairs. I spent most of my childhood living in a cookie-cutter apartment. The concept of being able to go upstairs and come downstairs was just wonderful to me. I’d run upstairs any chance I could, just because I could. Over time I settled in and made the house my own. I ordered myself a red and white wooden sign at the True Value hardware store in town that said, “Adina’s House” and stuck it in the ground at the top of the driveway with all my might. This is what happiness felt like. Next I became “a local”. I wasn’t a summer renter. No sir. On Sunday nights when everyone had to sit in traffic and the dread of having to go back to the City loomed over people’s heads, I was able to stay. Monday mornings I would wake up and go get coffee at the Golden Pear and sit on the bench and think to myself, “I’m so lucky.” I fell in love with East Hampton as if it was a man. I felt fulfilled in ways deep in my soul that I never even knew needed to be loved. I went out every night—a single woman, alone in a love affair with her town to The Palm, Fresno, Citta, Nick & Toni’s, and Della Famina as it was called at the time (now East Hampton Grill). I sat at the bar in these wonderful venues and fell in love with food, wine and life again. I wasn’t bored. I met the most interesting people—people I believe that were also in love with East Hampton. I chatted with fellow entrepreneurs, artists and writers, plenty of real estate industry folks, to name a few. My true love was shared with many others, and it was totally accepted. East Hampton has a big enough heart for all of us. As summer time would end I embraced off-season living and even began to like it better. I felt like the light of the neighborhood. I went places and people were sincerely happy to see me. Monday night football at Citta—goofing around with JJ at the bar—it’s great fun, especially on a snowy stormy night. Often I would drive to Bridgehampton or Sag Harbor and create my own adventures. Tutto on Wednesday for half price pasta and an espresso martini made especially for me by Moritzio. Sen when I missed great sushi. Bobby Van’s when I wanted to flirt with men. Or sometimes I would go to Pierre’s and he would share with me charming stories about his childhood in the bakery in France. I explored the other hamlets with an open heart and sense of adventure that I hadn’t felt, maybe ever, in my life. East Hampton didn’t mind when I cheated from time to time. I always came home to my true love. I wish I could say exactly when I fell in love with living in the Hamptons. Maybe it was the first time I drive down Scuttle Hole Road and the view took my breath away. It might have been the first time I saw a child place a letter to Santa Claus in the fake mailbox in East Hampton town that thoughtfully appears for the children in December. Or perhaps it was the first time the barista at Mary’s Marvelous gave me my maple scone and said “Good morning, nice to see you again,” and meant it. It could have been the first time I went to feed the ducks on David’s Lane. Or even when I got my East Hampton library card. There are countless charming memories and moments that I hold in my heart. My love story has a happy ending. With a little help from my family and the universe, I found a house for sale in my budget, and I moved in this spring. I like to think my boyfriend, East Hampton, put in a good word with God because he really wanted me to stay. Well, my darling East Hampton, you’ve got your wish. I own a small piece of you that I will pamper and cherish forever. I promise to adorn you with beautiful flowers from Marder’s and walk barefoot on you with that peaceful smile you seem to always bring to my face. East Hampton, I am in love with you, I will never let you go, and I have a deed to prove it.