Ah, Memorial Day, how did you come upon us so quickly? I don’t know about my fellow locals, but I’m just not ready for you.
I’m already missing winter’s empty stores, quiet checkout lines, and roads that were not yet filled with pedestrians and bike riders who don’t seem to get that there are vehicles in their midst, people rushing to their jobs, people in a hurry. The bumper sticker that says, “We’re not all on vacation,” says it all.
I’ll miss my Sunday afternoon drives with my husband, which will now end as he starts fishing every free chance he gets, leaving me alone to fight the crowds on beaches, in parking lots, the supermarket, and just about everywhere else.
On our winter drives we often see other long-married couples taking their afternoon drives, which makes me feel old and almost makes me want to stop taking them. But we won’t because there’s nothing else to do at that time of year, and that’s how we like it. Sacred Sunday, we call it. In a perfect world no one would have to work on Sundays.
When we drive through the quiet streets of Montauk we see the new houses under construction, many of them much bigger and grander than my own year-round residence. How do these people get to come to my town and build a bigger house than me? I, too, want a gazebo attached to my house or an oceanfront view. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem fair that those of us who live here year round often live in small houses, well smaller, anyway.
But I’m also jealous of those who are finding Montauk and the Hamptons for the first time. I’m jealous of the ones who have yet to find the secret beach that is littered with conch shells and driftwood that I take home for my collection, or the horse ranch high on a hill where Montauk horses graze and gladly take handfuls of carrots. I’m jealous of the first time they see Oink, our resident pig who roams as freely as a dog and has become something of a tourist attraction.
I’m jealous of the adventure they are about to embark upon and the friends they will meet. When I first came to Montauk as a young recent graduate of a business high school, which allowed me to receive a diploma as long as I promised not to type for a living, I, too, found many adventures, some not too cool. Ironically, I now type for living and am actually not too bad at it.
There was the first time my friends and I decided to walk from the downtown area to the Montauk Lighthouse, not realizing it was about five miles of tough road. We ended up turning back when we thought it must have fallen into the brink. “It really couldn’t be this far, can it?” we asked ourselves. Ironically, I now live near the Lighthouse.
So we hitched a ride, thinking that there was safety in numbers. Of course, a weirdo picked us up, the same weirdo that I see nowadays and know as a local. As we sat in the back of his car, we held hands and prayed for our safe return to the motel we lived in. Ironically, that guy is now a friend of mine.
Then there was the time a newly-met friend and I decided to embark on a bike ride after she took some Ex-Lax. She had asked my unprofessional opinion of how many she should take to get her bowels moving again and I told her about two or three. Hey, they were chocolate flavored, that’s all I knew. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone pedal so fast and furious to the nearest restroom. There is no irony here; I still love chocolate.
On our first summer out here, my close girlfriend, who grew up next door to me on City Island, was hit by a car in front of the Montauk movie theater. She was fine, took a ride in the ambulance to the hospital, but became agitated when a reporter from this newspaper got in touch with her for more information. “I don’t want this in the paper,” she told the reporter. “My parents will make me come home if it gets out.”
I do look forward to the warm days of summer and lazing on a beach all day. I look forward to eating steamers, lobsters, homemade chowder, and fresh corn on the cob. I look forward to outdoor dining and family boat rides. I look forward to having a whole afternoon by myself while my husband fishes. I look forward to people-watching and watching summer blockbuster movies at the Montauk Movie. But what I really look forward to is September.
Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.