Friday, April 22, 2011

This City was not Built on Rock and Roll, but Something Else Entirely

Hamptons, spring break 2011. I had my heart set on Fort Lauderdale, MTV party beach house style, but, it didn't work out. It's probably for the best. I hear Florida is full of ne'er-do-wells.

James was going for work, so I hitched a ride in his hybrid, and holed up in his hotel room for most of the week. The Hamptons are kind of weird. We were in Sag Harbor, and without the aura of Sag Harbor, it's really just a regular east coast small town. But, it's early in the season. Maybe it's different when all the yachts arrive with their millionaires.

I like to run when I visit new places, so see what there is to see. I found the Whaling Museum (closed until May), the library (where I went to read Rilla of Ingleside), and the church below.

It's the first Presbyterian Church, Old Whalers'. Doesn't that just look like an old whalers' church? Solid and absolutely no nonsense. When I paused in front of it on my run (we went back later for the photo), I thought of what the old whalers must have prayed for in that church. Or, rather, more likely, what their wives and children prayed for while they were away.

Just next to it was The Old Burying Ground. That's what it's called. The first people buried there were the Tory innkeeper's children, who were buried in unmarked graves in 1767 (I read the sign). The last person buried there was in the 1860s.

The place is just lousy with Revolutionary War veterans. James told me that if we lived near the Old Burying Ground, he would make our children have time-outs in it.
He doesn't look like a monster, but he is.

It is always nice to get out of the city, especially now when the city and I are not on great terms after the winter. Days of watching free cable, eating mint chip ice cream cones, and stubbornly not doing the homework I brought to do were all well and good.

But I also came to a conclusion: Sag Harbor, and probably lots of other places, are like Los Angeles. People say they don't like LA, but I think it's because they haven't take the time to try to understand it. I didn't like Sag Harbor (the boonies with a J.Crew, as James says), until I ran into the quiet neighborhoods on a sunny afternoon. Until I discovered the quiet streets that felt like home, and the Old Burying Ground and the Whalers' Church. I didn't like it until I started to feel its history and its true-ness under my feet. Because no matter how hard people want to make a place something pretentious or distasteful, that's not the truth of the place. And I really think that if you listen hard, and pay attention, and want to understand it, I think you can.

*I wore this sweatshirt and puffy vest practically the whole time I was there. Half laziness, half protest of resort wear. Andy says it was a good thing I wasn't arrested and forced to wear a cravat.

**Photos compliments of Annie, Lori, and Kimmy.


  1. i want to go to there.
    i love that church. it's just amazing.
    i'm pretty sure the yachts and millionaires get there this weekend.
    so close.

  2. That church made me think of Moby Dick - a book I've had to read twice. When asked I'll say that it was a harrowing experience both times but in reality wasn't so bad because it's kind of awesome if you can get past all the whale guts.

    And Rilla of Ingleside makes my heart break into a million weeping pieces. Oh, Walter.

  3. tell james that if your kids are anything like mine then that whole scary cemetary time out thing isn't going to work. My kids LOVE cemetaries.

  4. Annie, next time I stowaway to the Hamptons, I'll call you. The church is amazing. I stopped my run to look at it. I take a much more liberal view of stopping when I'm in an unknown city.

    Rachel, yes. exactly. Moby Dick. I actually developed my pet interest in the whaling industry on the East Coast while reading In the Heart of the Sea, the account of the sinking of the Essex, the story M.D. was purportedly based upon.

    Silvia, 2 things: I better have kids like your kids. and, your kids are weirdos.