Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Soggy Day in Sag Harbor

I wonder why it is we try to belong in places we don't belong. One of the sanctuaries(I tried to make it, and failed) I sought out after Don died was The Hamptons, where I rented a house in Springs, the woodsy probably downmarket part of that sooooooooooo cherished weekend and summer escape of wealthy and would-be wealthy New Yorkers. My house was a kind of loft set on the ground, belonging to a woman whose path, I think, was more self-inflicted stumblier than mine: she had a boyfriend who was an architect, so she let him build it, I am sure to increase his self-esteem, which he might have done but he forgot insulation. There were 60 foot ceilings, and it was Fall going into winter, and cold cold cold and damp. I had to keep the house at 55 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing, and that cost so much money I was afraid to turn the heat up lest my son not be able to finish graduate school. So Happy, my yorkie, very little, and a laptop, very little, and a little heater and a little TV lived in a little room upstairs where I tried to finish a novel and pretend this was a life. i had one faux friend, very rich, who let me swim in her pool even though she was too fashionable to be in the Hamptons that time of year, but I swam there in bracing winds every day just out of spite so she would be forced to pretend to be gracious which she had never been, and it would cost her money. Then, I would try to find friends.
Let me tell you about the Hamptons. The reason why Jackson Pollock and Rothko were productive, insane and drunk was there is nothing else todo off-season but be those things. You have either got to become a drunk, or join AA. I dabbled in both, not becoming an alcoholic but going with some frequency to the sushi bar in Sag Harbor and downing a great deal of Sake, as at least I could talk to the sushi master, and I went to the AA meeting in Wilton or Weston or someplace like that, because it was as close as I could come to finding friends. There was an actor in the meeting whose name I shall not tell as it's part of the covenant, but he was funny and bright and in the throes of a great love which has come to no good end and in public, so at least there were people, before I returned to my personal chill. Happy was always a sport, anywhere on the planet I took him, so made no complaint, but I think he had a better time in Germany, which should give you some idea.
So yesterday I went on the Hampton Jitney to Sag Harbor to see a friend in a play, and the rain it raineth all the time, and the sushi bar which was just six people long is now a huge, very successful and slightly overpriced restaurant, where I went first for lunch before the play, and then afterwards with my friend who had been very fine in his role indeed, and in between sushi and play ate ice cream, all the flavors I wanted in two different places because when I lived there I had restrained myself, still imagining love would come along. During the play the rains had been so torrential that the audience thought the air conditioning was turned up too high, but it was really the roof working against collapsing in the downpour. After the second sushi I stood in a doorway waiting for the bus back to town.and observed Main Street, all festooned with American flags over storefronts, and quaint architecture that whistles Americana, but finds it hard to toot in the rain.
And I came to the conclusion that there is nothing sadder than a melancholy day in a place people have pushed their way into, money having been the bulldozer, thinking one could not be both chic and cool without spending summer in the Hamptons. Even the storefronts looked down on this rainy, joyless day, flags sodden and twisted around each other outside the flower store.
The secret, I think, is to always have a resort in your heart, but see a place on its worst day before considering moving there.

No comments: