Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leaving Paumanok.

This past weekend I visited the fish-shaped island where I was born. It makes me wonder, is home a place you return to or a place you leave? Can you have two homes... can you have more?
I've already posted some random thoughts and pictures of this past weekend, when Beth and I flew back to Long Island for my brother's engagement party. We got in Thursday night, late, and my brother took Friday off so we could spend some time together and meet up with my Mom. Also so I could drink more than one large Dunkin' Donuts coffee, which I can't get in Minnesota. Just to make sure it still works I asked for a large "regular" coffee and the man behind the counter gave me one with cream and two sugars just like he is supposed to. Any other kind of coffee is irregular, like the weak black farmer's coffee families make in the Midwest.

Saturday morning we ate at the Shipwreck Diner in Northport down the street from Gunther's Tap Room, where Jack Kerouac spent his final miserable days as a slobbering towny. We stopped for a view of the harbor there, and then at Crab Meadow where I took this movie. We met my mom and my stepdad for lunch and I had an egg cream, something I order when I go home even though I never really drank them when I lived out there, just because they don't have them in Minnesota. However short was our time together that day, and, in fact, our time together in this world---it was a family that only stayed that shape for a few years---it is the true family of my childhood, inviolate memories of a mom and a dad.

That night we drove out to the place we rented in Southold on the more Northern of the forks of the tail of the fish that is Long Island. We had real pizza Friday night and I convinced my brother to order a Sicilian, something else you don't get in Minnesota.

Saturday morning we walked out onto the floating dock behind the house for this view and encountered a swan. You can just see him in the second picture. I ran back out with the camera only as he was nearly gone. Then we went to a wine-tasting at a vineyard which was, for me, two things. One, an interesting cultural experience.

I'm sober, so I have to occupy myself with people-watching at events like wine-tastings. In this case it was more like skank-watching. There were a lot of back tattoos, zebra print coats and lace up boots there for some reason and at least a few no-necked guidos. The only guest who looked like what I'd expect from a wine-tasting on the North Fork was a fellow I named Blaine Worthington III---a pretentious douchebag I'm sorry to say---with Matthew McConaughey hair and a tweed jacket. His orange handkerchief matched his v-neck sweater vest. He smoked a cigar awkwardly with self-conscious attention, aspiring to little more than the suggestion of a J Crew catalog model but not really belonging there in any fashion.

Second, the wine-tasting was an opportunity to talk to my brother and his fiancee and friends and Beth in a very characteristically East-End/North-Fork landscape---you can enjoy farms and rural stuff, but in the same breath smell the ocean rustling long sun-bleached sea grass on the backs of mute and purposeful dunes not too far away. You don't get that parallel in Minnesota.

We ate Italian food Saturday night and all of us stayed up playing games, most of us drinking but not me of course. Then everybody wanted to watch Paranormal Activity. Beth tried but she couldn't take it---she hates horror movies---even the setup, which was all we made it through, was giving her palpitations. And I was tired anyway as well as having my guts roiling with paralyzing gas so Beth and I went to bed. I played music on my iphone speakers to get her mind off the movie, but it didn't help because the tv was loud and we kept hearing screams from the other room. I got the movie in my head too, imagining what happened after the part where I left off, like I said just the setup, picturing people with night-vision eyes being dragged out of bed, disappearing into black closets. And the music on my iphone was keeping me up. I woke up in the night to urinate and had to leave the lights on paralyzed not by my own fear but by Beth's.

From the other room I heard the baritone of my brother's voice. This is something else we don't have in Minnesota.

A few houses down we were allowed access, as part of our weekend rental, to maybe 15-feet worth of private beach. The next morning Beth and I walked down there right before we left and I dug my fingers into the strip of sand. It didn't matter how small of a strip it was; it separated the land from the water and that is a beach. I rubbed the grains between my fingers. This isn't like that dirt they have around Lake Harriet, babe!, I told Beth. We don't have real sand in Minnesota. And as long as that sand runs in my veins, and the Ocean air rolls around in my lungs, Minnesota will really never have me, either.


Elizabeth said...

First, back tattoos are skanky? We need to talk.

Second, Blair's coat was velvet.

Third, it was beautiful there and I like to think of you growing up in such a gorgeous place.

Eric said...

Oh, sorry, I mean "tramp stamps." We both grew up in beautiful settings didn't we. It's why we're such optimists.

Elly Lou said...

Lovely. Even if I find the idea of Long Island even more frightening than Paranormal Activity. It just doesn't seem real that there is THAT much land on the other side of Manhattan. Freaks me out. So do toenails. Also? Nice to meet you!

Eric said...

Thank You! For reading and for your comment. Do I gather correctly that you are in Jersey? It so happens we watched a few hours of Jersey Shore when I was on LI and I found THAT more frightening than Paranormal Activity. Maybe the show and the movie could be combined. What would that look like...

Elly Lou said...

I think it would still look a lot like Jersey Shore, just with a higher percentage of the infrared "smooshing" camera treatment.