It all goes back to 2016. The wedding of my closest theatre friend and co-conspirator was happening and I was a crucial figure, in that I was carrying her dress. Rushing to the East Coast, spending a short time in New York before heading to the island that, much like Dali – pops back randomly into my conversations throughout life again and again. The island off Massachusetts, known as Martha’s Vineyard.
It was September, humid and heavy, the late summer not-quite-ready-for-fall mist hung over the streets. The smells of Manhattan were familiar and strangely exhilarating: rubber, urine, and hotdogs. Ah, my old city, how I love you, even though I am sweating like a pig right now and don’t know if I will sleep at all.
I touched upon favorite haunts and connected with family not seen for a decade before picking up a car in White Plains and driving the 95 through 4 states.
I love to drive, especially in strange places. Freedom and adventure is intoxicating. When the company that I performed with used to drive to Los Angeles for gigs, the director would hand me the keys to the car and say “Do not let those idiots touch these. You are driving and that is it.” It gave me a huge sense of pride to be the one manning the wheel, that I could be trusted as the others talked shit and drank for 7 hours. We always stopped for pie and pics, it was fun like that.
Cruising the coast of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and arriving on the outskirts of Massachusetts in record time is no problem for me. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston actually came on the radio while making the turnoff from Boston and it felt like a delightful blessing – a capper to this wonderful day. Yeah, the lyrics are sad, but who can resist such a solid rock ensemble and dynamic east coast vibe?
I stopped in an unfamiliar town and had the best mac and cheese of my life. Still talking about it, it was that amazing. Then, jetted down all the way to tiny Falmouth. The rental car lady was so tan and relaxed, it was clear that she had been spending the summer just outside, soaking in life, and I was ready to receive this solid earth energy.
After the ferry ride and a hasty trek across the island I found myself being offered blueberry wine by an old school friend of my host, and here I was shivering by a fire, hoping the wine would do its work. Happily listening to inane musings of good friends merged with loving strangers and family members, whose lore had only been shared with me by my friend (whom they were related to). To think, just that morning, I was still in New York and now here beside the continent, completely surrounded by water in a 400 year old farmhouse seemingly surrounded by ghosts and sudden sharp breezes. I felt a completeness here by the fire, having bonded with the relatives. It just felt right when the cousin from Long Island came bounding over and announced “I ran through the woods completely naked with him!” and pointed to our theatre friend from the city, who had also just made the acquaintance of the family shortly before. Yes, this lady was definitely related to our friend and we were all destined to be wonderful, wild friends with them.
The other cousin, he made “googly eyes” at me when I walked over to him. He sat by the hearth in a thick New England sweater and had one of those charming distinguished birthmarks where the hair in his short beard had a solid streak of white. “I’ve heard so much about you, now we finally meet”. We couldn’t stop laughing for some reason, the celebratory yet peaceful feeling in the air was palpable, as he proceeded to tell me stories of this strange, enchanting place and who was here before.