She Would Have Liked It Here
She would have liked it here.
She would have liked the calmness of the bay and the loud calls of the ospreys. She is what I was thinking about that morning.
On Nassau Point I take my coffee with two sugars and a view of Robin’s Island, something I can’t seem to replicate in my Monday to Friday Manhattan apartment.
However, that Friday was different. That Friday I skipped work to head out to the North Fork early. The city was becoming hotter as July was quickly making it’s way to August and a light breeze off the Peconic was a better alternative than a crowded subway car.
Jenny Fisher, her mother, Noreen, and I were heading out to meet with the florist and caterer that day. Sipping my coffee on the back porch in an oversized wooden chair my mind should have been on the tasks at hand and they were, in a way.
What flowers would be best for a June wedding at Pellegrini Vineyards? What entree would guests love but not weight them down too much to dance? You know, life’s tough questions.
While I was excited for the wedding I found myself preoccupied. Thinking of her.
My mother died just over 10 years ago, a full 8 years before I would meet Jenny, my future wife. What appetizers would my mother want to eat at my wedding? What song would she have picked for her and I to dance to? What would she want?
“Andrew, it’s time to head out,” said Jenny to me as she smiled and fixed her sunglasses. I nodded and tried to push thoughts of my mother out of my mind. I tried to focus on the present.
She would have liked Jenny. She would have liked the way her parents and two sisters made me part of their family. She always hated how hectic our lives became with the surgeries, the chemotherapy treatments, the constant stress and worry.
From the boat trips to Southold to dinner at Legends, I quickly found myself feeling normal again. Even happy. The stress and sadness began to melt away with Magic Fountain runs and swimming in the Peconic.
There’s something about a host at a restaurant not looking behind the children to see if there was a missing person. There’s a feeling of safety and normalcy that comes with two parents being present.
I walked through the one floor house with Jenny seeing her father analyse nautical maps of Noyak Bay. I caught his eye and he winked at me knowing full well I knew nothing of flower arrangements.
The wind chimes that lined Mattick Florist reminded me of my family’s old backyard. As an art teacher my mother was known for being eccentric, and it was her doing that our small backyard in Staten Island was covered in plants and wind chimes. So when I walked into the small store that was packed with the feelings of a community I had one though: She would have liked it here.
The food the women at Grace & Grits put in front of us was fantastic. But, I know my mother. A local catering business owned and operated by two women would have received her approval before we even picked up a fork.
I sat across from Jenny and her mother at the at the rectangular wooden table. The chair to my right was empty, but it wasn’t. She was there. When it came time to make decisions about what food our guests would eat I knew which way she was leaning. “What’s local and fresh?” she would have ask.
That’s why when the head chief told us that the vegetables would vary based on what was fresh the week of our wedding next summer, I knew she would have liked it.
After a few more errands we made our way to McCall Wines where we met up with Jenny’s father. The sprawling vineyard is home to a large wind turbine and quite a few cows munching on grass in the fields beyond the rows of grapes. It was Friday and the North Fork Food Truck was making its weekly appearance at the vineyard.
With grass fed beef burgers in front of all of us I wondered how on Earth this beautifully cooked meal came from a truck. The buns were lightly toasted, hiding the delicious beef patty that lacked grease but contained so much flavor. Images of hot dog stands outside of my downtown Manhattan office raced through my mind. I was far from that. I was happy to be far from that.
Children were playing games in the grass while their parents were sipping wine, and I was thinking about her. I was thinking about this gem of civilization I had found and how much I wished she could have joined me here before she died.
“So what’s the plan tonight?” Jenny asked her father.
“Well the Watsons invited us over for dessert,” he replied.
“Looks like we’re headed to KP,” said Jenny.
As a kid Rip, Jenny’s father, spent summers on the North Fork on Kimogenor Point, or KP for short. A tradition he inherited from his parents and one that he successfully passed down to his three girls.
The Watsons are siblings that follow the same tradition of vacationing on the North Fork and they tended to host the Fishers often. As the Fishers no longer had a house on KP, the family tends to take the offer to head back to the community of homes when presented with one.
Secretly, I was honored that I was added into this family’s tradition. Here I was, an outsider, being expected to attend a party through the invitation of my fiance’s family. I felt lucky that the biggest issue facing the family was where to have dessert.
I sat on the railing of the porch on the left side of the Watson house peering out as the sun was setting over the Peconic. The blend of soft pink and bright hot orange mixed with the blue of the sky in the distance. It was all reflecting off of the still water.
I heard laughter coming from inside the house. Old memories being relived through vivid storytelling. New memories being made all the time.
Smiling I looked down at my half full Summer Ale from Greenport Harbor Brewing Company and take in the moment. She would have liked that I found a family that takes care of me. She would have liked that I found a place where stress was almost non-existent.
I felt a hand land on my back, waking me from my thoughts. It was Jenny, running her left hand slowly up and down between my shoulder blades. Her eyes were locked on the “cotton candy sky” as she so lovely referred to North Fork sunsets.
“I think she would have liked it here,” she said. I froze as my eyes stared at the bright orange sunset reflecting on her blue eyes. After a moment she turns her focus to me.
With a genuine smile I said, “She would have.”