Suddenly Last Summer

Also known as, That Time I went to The Hamptons.

You know, THE Hamptons. That fancy place. That “Oh you know, I just have a summer home there, no big deal” place.

Before moving to the City, I never imagined that my eyes would set sight on a Hampton’s starry night sky, let alone that I would spend two separate weekends there during the same summer, but alas,  New York does these things to us. We create an invisible barrier around it, scoffing at every place that borders outside and idealizing every spot within. The Hampton’s is the New Yorker’s perfect beach getaway. It’s your bouji pseudo-vacation. And it’s common. So common in fact that I’m pretty sure every single being in my office was in the Hampton’s at least once last summer. Whether it was South, West, or East, I have no idea–I find it impossible to keep all the hamptons straight to be honest.

These trips to the Hamptons were never planned for or expected. They were spontaneous, friday afternoon musings that turned into action. There was always a friend who had a friend who had a spare room open that weekend in the Hamptons. The first time, I tagged along with a random group of co-workers, and when I was invited to join, I didn’t ask a single practical question, I just said Yes. The practical question would have been “How much am I spending?” Later, I found myself regretting my decision when I had spent 200 bucks just to crowd inside a tiny bedroom with 3 hardly-friends for two nights. It is worth mentioning that the tiny room was just one of at least five bedrooms in a large mansion, filled to the brim with lots of bitchy Manhattanites that I didn’t know or care to know. There was a pool too. And a backyard tennis court. And some lame guy who stood me up. And a night out at a pretentious dance club.

But that weekend will never be my real memory of the Hampton’s, and it’s certainly not the weekend I want to commemorate. It hardly deserved to be mentioned, but sometimes a story needs a good contrast.

My second trip to the Hampton’s occurred about a month later, on a sunny weekend in August. August is that wonderful month that I never want to end. I would do anything for it to stay forever so I didn’t have to give up the summer. I’d even go to the Hampton’s for a second time. This time, I was invited by a work friend whose family owns a summer home there. I’m telling you, it really is frighteningly common.

He too invited me on a Friday afternoon while we were still at work. He told me he had his mom’s car for the weekend and that he wanted to get out of the city. Cars are a luxury here, and so is getting out of the city, so how could I resist? Not only that, but I wouldn’t have to pay for a room. He had the entire house to himself, and told me to bring along a friend. This sounded like a Hampton’s party I could finally get on board with.

Five hours later, it was dusk and the city was beginning to look small and insignificant behind us. We were packed in the car, all 5 of us. (see how many friends you can make on short notice when you have a summer home in the Hamptons?)

I brought Mel of course, and he brought two friends, one of whom I’d never met. I was sitting shotgun, with the window rolled down and the radio playing classic rock hits. I remember feeling exceptionally alive. It was something about the stars finally starting to pop in the sky and the city behind us, maybe the warm breeze playing with my hair. Whatever it was, I was happy, and life was peaceful in that moment.

When we pulled into the driveway and I stepped out of the car, I breathed in the clean night air and exhaled whatever pressure was inside of me. My body relaxed. The house was tucked away privately in a quiet woods setting, the kind where you only hear crickets chirping. We all sat cross-legged in the quaint living room, drinking whatever alcohol was in the freezer and playing card games. And we laughed a lot. Not forced laughter, but real laughter, about silly shit I hardly remember, until one of the guys went outside to smoke a cigarette. When we checked on him half an hour later, he was asleep in a reclining chair in the backyard. I guess he must’ve felt pretty relaxed too. Sometimes you don’t realize what this city does to you until you take a step back.

In the morning, after a full night of rest in a bed I didn’t have to share with anyone other than my own twitchy sleeper-self, the boys barbecued breakfast for us outside. I remember Mel and I were sprawled happily under a pine tree, with the scent of bacon wafting from the grill. The rest of the day was spent on the nearby beach, laughing about all the bouji twenty-somethings who were sunbathing there, and “Would you rather this one or that one?” until we finally tired of that game and moved on to a new luxury.

My friend with the summer home just so happened to have a friend with an even cooler summer home that just so happened to be in town that weekend as well. We all tagged along in awe. There are hardly words to describe this place, but I’ll attempt to paint its glory for you.  Acres of fresh green grass, a backyard that featured it’s very own alice-in-wonderland-like garden with tall brilliantly colored flowers, tumbling vines, a turquoise pool surrounded by a gigantic deck shaded with umbrellas, a basketball court, a trampoline– you name it, they had it. To imagine a childhood there seemed almost a shame. You couldn’t possibly live in the real world or know that life is cruel if this had always been your home, could you?   You couldn’t appreciate fresh air or luxury when you had the chance, none of that. You couldn’t feel the elation I felt when I leapt to do a cartwheel across the lawn, before jumping into the cool blue water. We rested on floaties in the pool for hours, with a beer in hand, and if our hands ever tired, there were drink holders inside the floaties, so never mind that problem anyways. We barbecued again, and ate burgers on the deck under umbrellas, shading ourselves from the sun that must’ve just poisoned our skin, if not our souls. We played a few games of knockout basketball, all of which I somehow won; must’ve been the high I was on.

Then the melancholy time came for us to pack up our stuff and we slowly began the drive back to the city. But the sun was setting, and the music was playing, and the breeze was still breezing, so I really didn’t care. I was in bliss, at peace, ready to take on anything and ride the wave into sunday.

Of course there are a few details I left out. Mild flirtations, a few songs I savored from that trip, things I thought to myself that weekend, and most importantly a brand new friendship that soon turned into a romance that is still going strong one summer later. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m thankful for the stupid Hamptons, and I think it may be time for another visit.

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