In the Fall, as the air cools and the bird chorus sings, we begin planning for our trip to the beach in Montauk, New York. My husband gets his fishing equipment together and I get my coloring books and fashion magazines, and we make the drive in one day starting early morning and arriving around 6pm. As soon as we get into our room, we go out on the balcony, have a glass of wine, and listen to the waves. Then we change our clothes and go to a local restaurant for beer and burgers. The sound of the waves gentles us before we sleep.
On our first day there, we walk the beach collecting beach bits of shells, rocks, and wood most of which we return to the beach before we go. We collect them anyway because we are beachcombers and collectors at heart. We have been beachcombing together for almost 44 years.
We also visit our friend who used to own a local pub where locals and tourists gathered. Conversation at the bar was always lively. She was there every night at a table by the door sometimes seating guests and sometimes reading a mystery book. Since she sold it, we meet up at restaurants and she fills us in about the year in Montauk. Last year she allowed us to drive her for the first time.
We also visit all the small towns in the Hamptons – a day in Sag harbor, a movie, sushi, and shops. East Hampton and the Parrot Restaurant for Mexican, and the shops. Sometimes we attend the Hamptons Film Festival. The comfort of familiarity and ease of movement. We know these places. We visit them every year. When the pizza place in Sag Harbor, with some of the best pizza in the world, sold out to modern pizza restaurant with white plastic seating, we didn’t even try it. Thick crusts that uses to be tossed into the air gave way to thin crusts with unknown toppings that appeared more like ice cream than pizza.
This morning, as I noticed the season changing, the longing for Montauk brought me to tears. We won’t be going this year. We think it’s too risky to make the drive up, stopping in rest stops along the way and then shopping for food or getting take-out. Even though NY is one of the safest places to be, it is risky for us to travel given our ages and my lung condition.
I feel the same sadness I felt in the Spring when I saw my summer dresses and longed to have somewhere to wear them. Each dress held a memory of an event, a fun time with friends and family, that wouldn’t happen this year. I wonder if every change in the season will bring a new sense of loss and I expect that it will.
My way is to allow the sadness for a period of no more than two days, but it usually doesn’t last that long. I cry for my loss. I call friends and lament with them over what they are missing. Even while doing that, I am aware that I have been fortunate to have had Montauk every year for 25 years. I am fortunate that my husband and I are still together and healthy and so is our daughter. Most of our family is mostly still alive.
This gratitude lifts me amid my sadness and longing and sometimes anger and outrage. I begin to plan. Is the Hamptons film festival on this year? It is and it is virtual! Yeah, we can watch films for few days. I can call my friend and/or have a virtual dinner with her. I can make burgers and fries and we can drink beer. We can sit on our deck and use the chiminea that my husband bought us. We will make the most of the season and this time in our lives.