“Even when the east excited me most, even when I was keenly aware of its superiority to the broad, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio, with their interminable inquisitions which only spared children and the very old -even then it had always for me a quality of distortion. ”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
May 21, 2012, Washington, DC: The traffic piles up on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. approaching Bridgehampton. By dinnertime in Amagansett, the Meeting House on the square is full, families and old friends stuffed in tight beneath golden light, sharing beet salads and mussels and sipping good wine. They’ll work it off tomorrow at one of the many Pilates or yoga studios in East Hampton, maybe try on the stunning clothes hanging in the store windows along the way. They’ll wear them well, I assure you.
Late at night, music booms from the Stephen Talkhouse, where bouncers will charge a $10 cover on Friday and $20 on Saturday. The cab fare home and a morning omelette at Babette’s will be pricy, like you never left Manhattan.
Welcome to the Hamptons, where the crowds have arrived, the people are gorgeous and the costs are steep. It’s not even Memorial Day.
If you thought this is what you might find here, you were right. In part. To an outsider, the scene is distorted, like these kinds of places always are to those looking in. To the one-time visitor, the air is punctured by clanking glasses and laughter wafting across the water just like Fitzgerald said. You can hear his words more clearly here… “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” If you could swing it, you might dance there at East Hampton Point more often, sipping specialty cocktails with fresh strawberries out of handmade navy and white striped straws on the outdoor patio overlooking the bay.
From a different perspective, there are other elements of this scene that are equally distorted — not because they are out of reach but because they are simply exceedingly beautiful. There is an afternoon nap in the sand on a nearly warm beach. There is a morning walk through Sag Harbor, where the high-end chain stores have not yet arrived.
There is an old-school children’s ride installed in front of the ice cream shop where we pick up a vanilla milkshake. And two doors side by side, turquoise and lime green. And a picturesque cottage for sale on the main drag. And a million other images that remind us it’s nearly summer.
It’s not hard to make it all look beautiful. Out here, that’s just the way it is. We are miles from Monday and it was all just yesterday.
Miles From Monday is a weekly travel feature that allows us to venture out of the spaces we inhabit during our weekday routines and retreat to those wide open landscapes that feel far from the start of the work week.
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