I limped out here back to the breathable shore and I'm further east than I have ever stayed before. I thought I would pass a fortnight in Manhattan and then continue my journey to Key West. Except I got crumpled from the city sojourn and instead of south I drove as far east as is possible and took a room in Montauk, the very last village on the south fork of Long Island. For one thing I keenly needed a nap and my instincts took me home. Home in the loosest sense.
I am in a room across the street from the beach and from my porch I can see a slab of the ocean. In between the motels there is a gap and I have a peepshow view of the water with its dark spume flecked waves heaving up to shore. Occasionally the vista is enlivened by a passing pickup truck rattling with fishing poles and coolers. Other than my cigarette smoke the air is salty and sweet smelling and the overall effect is invigorating. Exactly the palliative I sought.
From the briefest of glimpses it appears Montauk has a cosmos of its own whirling along, contrariwise to the rest. While the fancy Hamptons to the west are economically beset here there exists a bustling community. Main Street thrums. The born and bred Montaukers are friendly and possibly all related. In the supermarket the large boned locals continually called out hello to each other using first names. Most startling of all was the launderette where I automatically sought out the Latina, who turned out to be a patron (I groveled apologies), meanwhile the owners were a mother, son and daughter team, sporting an increasingly familiar look of stringy blonde hair and easy smiles and knock-knees.
When I went to pay my bill and extend my stay I found the motel manager seated in a sagging folding chair, his feet up on a splintering desk and chomping on a large muffin. Atop a hay bale of lank hair he wore a cap with The End stitched across the front. He asked me if I ever get bored, “I see you spend a lot of time by yourself,” he said, and rubbed crumbs from a landslide of stubbled chins.
As congenial as the denizens are I get the feeling they are as pleased to see a tourist come to their town as they are to see one leave.
“Hardly!” I laughed and I could only shrug and smile and scoot back to the sanctity of my quarters from where I can listen to the waves crushing the beach and the screeching bickering gulls. Unlike the nearby cacophonous metropolis here there are few sounds beyond the surf and the seagulls. Except for at night when a whipped up breeze bashes at the windows, pushes on the front door as if it had an invitation. After two weeks in Manhattan I would rather a visit from a gust of wind. And now a long nap, and then it will be time to go.