Say Goodbye East Hampton
It was the sight of the trees growing down towards the sand at the water’s edge that drew me to East Hampton. I had never seen that before on the New Jersey shoreline. Only row after row of houses one on top of each other existed there. My grandparents’ home was one of them.
A boardwalk strewn with salt water taffy shops, hot dog stands and 26 flavors of ice cream was all I had been familiar with before. The noise of pinball machines filled the air along with various other machines that ate your money.
About thirty-five years ago, one of my friends bought a home in the Three Mile harbor area of East Hampton and invited my husband Elliott and I to visit. That weekend changed our lives. I knew the New Jersey shore would never again draw me to it. The Hamptons would be our weekend escape and future retirement home.
I had wanted water front property on Gardiner’s Bay but my husband turned me down because of his fear of unknown costs escalating beyond our budget. And so our seemingly endless search for a future home that would be perfect for our needs began.
Two years passed as our search continued and we viewed the many homes built on the East End during the 1980’s. Our friends literally gave up on our finding something. But I did not!
One lucky day in January of 1986, I found an ad in the New York Times newspaper stating that a home in East Hampton had been reduced $100,000. “That’s the house for us” I said.” If the house was reduced that much they would probably take a low ball offer.” We could not wait to see it.
Both of us fell in love immediately. It had magnificent high ceilings, recessed lighting, and a stunning pool Elliott couldn’t wait to swim in. It had everything we wanted. Our agent made an offer and a day later the house was ours! We had found our private Shangri-La, or Casa Blanca, as we would later name it.
Fifteen years of wonderful weekends passed. At first we drove out
Friday evenings and returned on Sundays. Then we started out on Thursday evenings, returning on Mondays. We looked forward to those trips, even in heavy traffic, because that precious time gave us the opportunity to share our hopes and dreams for the future.
Surprisingly, we never spent a week’s vacation here. Weekends were our thing and when more time was available, we flew the coop and traveled the globe. We had the best of both worlds.
My parents loved traveling and set an example for me. I recall asking Elliott if he would want to travel with me when he proposed. Luckily, he had said “Yes.” We dreamed the same dreams.
When our daughters became independent, we began following the trail of the Mayan civilization. From the Mexican Instituto Nacional De Anthopologia E Historia, I received permits to make some wonderful rubbings of Mayan ruins throughout Central America.
I never knew where we were going next but planned and studied for every trip beforehand. The map of the world on my wall holds the story of our lives with colorful pins to almost ninety countries. I never did get to become a member of the Century Club. (Those are people who have visited one hundred countries.)
Retirement came unexpectedly fifteen years later when Elliott finally sold his company. We left New Jersey permanently and happily settled into our East Hampton dream home year round.
Life was joyous here in the Hamptons for us. The years went by so quickly. We built onto the house because we needed a garden room to overlook our pool and an accessible laundry room. I asked my dear friend and East Hampton neighbor, who was a gifted architect, to design a pyramid room inspired by the Bedouin tents I had loved in my travels. And so my garden room became an afternoon escape where I could be outside in the woods with all of the indoor comforts of my home. We made many friends on our wonderful street with whom we enjoyed so many parties. Our love for our magical Hampton’s world grew with the passage of time. Life was indeed perfect.
Restaurants were tried every weekend. Swimming was delicious in our heated pool and nearby ocean. Fireworks were thrilling and anticipated every year. Charity events filled our special dance card. Best of all were the flea markets and antiquing we enjoyed so much. Elliott and I loved it all.
Two years ago, tragically, after thirty years in our dream home, my husband Elliott died suddenly and I was left with nothing but memories and a four-bedroom home in the NorthWest Woods. I was told choices had to be made.
At first, I lived in the house alone and reminisced. Loneliness set in. I knew I had to go forward with my life. Decisions had to be made. Stay or go? I decided to go! Where? Sag Harbor? NYC? Even my winter retreat in Cabo cropped up as a possibility. I had to make plans.
Was I up to the challenge of moving on? Selling a house was far from easy. Every corner held another souvenir, a memory brought to life again. How could I go about choosing what goes and what stays? How would I find people to buy my treasures? Sadly, the truth is no one wants them. They were my memories, my souvenirs, my treasures.
Whatever period of furniture I had was not in fashion today. Downsizing became the name of the game and I didn’t know where to begin. Panic arrived. Even my children could not be depended on to take things. Their homes were already complete, and they had no space for anything.
“Don’t worry, things will fall into place and it will all work out” I was told. That advice does not help at all. And yet, it all began to happen as people turned up to help. Some to garden, some to paint, some to take furniture on consignment and the house began its sad journey to emptiness.
Now I look at my house of empty of “stuff”. It no longer feels like my home as it becomes ready for the transition to a house for sale.
Where am I going next? I don’t know. More decisions have to be made. Will I be happy there? I hope so. What if I am not? I just know it is time for me to move on and begin a new life.
Now how do those Avenues go? First? Second? Third? Lexington? Park? Madison? Fifth?