IT’S MY SECOND AUTUMN IN EAST HAMPTON, and life is good. I’ve planted a few more shrubs, done a bit of fall clean-up. Things are shaping up, landscape-wise, though I’ve been a little lax on the photos. How many times can I show pictures of the same property? Actually, though, I saw a shot of how the roadside area, which is where I’ve been working lately, looked a year ago, and there is an enormous difference. How quickly one forgets.
What else have I been up to, for continuity’s sake? I was in Philadelphia last weekend, getting a trinity house ready for a renter. I’ve been eating vegan for the past 2 weeks and I’m getting used to it (just made a yummy tofu/spinach frittata). I’ve written several magazine articles, two for Garden Design‘s Nov/Dec issue (one on the new Brooklyn Bridge Park) and two for Hamptons Cottages & Gardens‘ holiday issue. I spent yesterday in Bridgehampton with my friend Diana White, who sells extraordinary vintage furniture from Biedermeier to Art Deco to Steampunk, helping her with a photo shoot for the website Vintage and Modern.
And now, to shake things up a little, I’m entering the ranks of those who “divide their time” between two homes. I’ve signed a lease on a 1-bedroom garden floor-through in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and just 3-1/2 weeks from now, I’ll be busy getting set up there and settling in for much of the winter — I guess. I’m really not sure where I’ll be when or how I’ll decide when it’s time to stay and when it’s time to go. It should be the easiest move ever, since all the stuff I’ll need for that apartment has been in storage for the past year-and-a-half. It’ll be delivered, and all I’ll have to do is unpack.
Consequently, I was very taken with a column in last Sunday’s New York Times, called “Home is Where the Stuff Is.” Boy, did it resonate, especially this passage, in which the author, Thomas Bellers, describes his feelings on returning home to New Orleans after a summer in Sag Harbor and seeing
“a million details of my life as it had been three and a half months earlier. Pocket change on a mantel, two cans of dog treats for the neighbor’s dog, a three-taper candlestick with wax melted over some Mardi Gras beads…
Nevertheless, I greeted these objects with ambivalence. Part of me felt exhausted by their presence. They exerted a kind of lunar pull, tugging me out of the present and into the past. It was like seeing an old friend after a long interval and being overcome with the sickening feeling that one of you has changed beyond recognition, that the old magic is gone.”
Is that how I’m going to feel, unpacking 35 boxes of books I didn’t look at before I moved? Clothing I haven’t needed? Pottery and dishes I easily replaced at yard sales? Music I’ve re-bought on iTunes?
The thing I’m most looking forward to re-acquainting myself with is my super-comfortable Englander mattress. Experientially, there’s more: Seeing friends I haven’t succeeded in luring out to the Hamptons. Volunteering at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Taking a few catch-up swing dance lessons. And coming back here, with the distance that I expect will make me appreciate country life all the more.