A Weekend Away

Last week I did one of the craziest, unheard of things that a person with a house in the Hamptons has ever done in the summertime. I went away. Not only did I go away, I was away for a weekend.

I can count on one hand, how many summer weekends I’ve spent away from the Hamptons since my husband and I have rented or owned a house here. We’ve been coming out since 1987. We’ve owned a house since 1994. We moved here full time in 2010. During those decades, I maybe visited my parents two times in the summer. We once missed a couple of June weekends when our first kid was born. We were so miserable, we decided to have the rest of the kids during the winter.

Summer weekends in the Hamptons are fun because it’s relaxing and yet, not relaxing at the same time. You spend your day on the beach and then head to the check-out line at Citarella. Who would want to miss that?

Early on in our marriage, I suggested to my husband that we visit Fire Island. He looked at me like I had two heads. “Fire Island? Why would we do that? We live near the beach.”

I knew then that summer travel was not going to be “our thing.” Arrivederci, Roma!

I want to interrupt this compelling story to say something about my husband. He doesn’t want me to talk about him on a monthly basis in a newspaper. He doesn’t want you, the reader, to know anything about him. He’s an enigmatic guy. That’s why I married him, for the mystery.

My writing friends have suggested I give him a nickname – a handle that defines him but doesn’t give too much away. I’ve decided on Mr. Hockey. My husband loves hockey. He plays it. He watches it. He listens to hockey radio in his car. I could have easily called him Mr. Golf. He plays and watches golf. But he doesn’t listen to golf radio. He’s private, not boring.

In light of his hockey trifecta, I pronounce that his moniker will be Mr. Hockey, forevermore.

I’ve already said too much about Mr. Hockey. Just know that he’s right. There is no reason to leave the Hamptons in the summer, particularly to go to another beach. Our beaches, our towns are some of the most beautiful places on earth. That’s why everyone comes here. It certainly isn’t for the cellphone service.

I used to tell this to our kids, as I drove them back from horseback riding or Carvel, or mini-golf, or some other joyful summer activity. We’d be driving down Dunemere Lane by the Maidstone Club, or through the potato fields on Scuttle Hole Road, and the light would be just right. I would turn to my children – should I call them hockey pucks to preserve their anonymity? I would turn to my hockey pucks and say, “Look at those fields, kids. We live in the most beautiful place on earth.”

My statement would be met with glazed, heat-stroked stares from their ice cream and sweat stained faces. They clearly weren’t seeing the beauty I was seeing. They only saw the soft-serve with sprinkles in front of their noses. Those unappreciative little puckers.

The hockey pucks have grown and one of them needed help driving her car from Colorado to California for a summer job. Mr. Hockey has no interest in driving anywhere, unless it’s to the golf course in the summer or the Buckskill rink in the winter. Though the trip would take me away from my beloved Hamptons on a sunny June weekend, I agreed to go.

We drove from Colorado Springs, through the San Luis valley, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, stopping in Taos and Santa Fe. The next day we drove through the northern Arizona, had lunch in Flagstaff and then on to Las Vegas. We lost a little bit of money when I taught the hockey puck how to play craps (don’t tell Mr. Hockey). Then we drove through the Mojave Desert Preserve to Joshua Tree National Park before heading up the coast to Santa Barbara.

I have to tell you, I was gob-smacked. Gob-Smacked!

Through the San Luis Valley, we were flanked on either side by mountain ranges that soared up to 14,000 feet. We saw the Rio Grande! When we headed west from Albuquerque, sandstone and shale mesas creeped towards us on Interstate 40 – the old route 66. We didn’t see trees for miles, only brush, sand and mesas, until we wound through the higher desert towards Flagstaff where were surprised by the ponderosa pines. In the Mojave we saw Joshua trees. In Joshua Tree, we saw Cholla cacti.

I’m not Walt Whitman; I can’t adequately describe how beautiful it all was. I can say the hockey puck got a little tired of me saying “oh my God,” as I was driving and wagging my finger to get her to snap another picture on my phone. I think I heard her mutter “mother-pucker” under her breath.

The Hamptons are a hard place to leave in the summer. Yet I’m glad I had my weekend away from our sandbar. Since I’ve returned, I’ve taken the back roads through Maidstone when the light was just so, and it truly was beautiful. I know this because I’ve seen what beauty is.

East Hampton Press, July 10, 2019

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