One thing about being sixty-something is that you have had the opportunity to watch things age. It’s strange when you notice the changes over time. One gets to see trees maturing that were planted around your home. You watch children grow up, become parents. I am still learning the meaning of the more things change the more they remain the same.
Sadly, you have to say the final goodbyes to people who mentored you, inspired you, and who cared for you. Time stops for no one. Trees, people, relationships grow over time. I have created some wonderful bonds on the east end over the last twenty years. I have watched folks struggle then become successful, and I have watched others either give up or cash out and leave. Doing journalism for the last twenty years I was able to interview many folks. Now some of these east end titans are gone. Legends like like Nick Monte, Tate King, John Heisig, Roberta Gosman, Anna Pump, and my first paid interview with Vinnie Carillo (Liars’ Saloon.) Vinnie sat for my first east end interview back in November 2004 for the historic Montauk Pioneer.
They shared with me many tales about east end, and the way it was. Yet we live in the here and now. We have cellphones, GPS navigation and believe me, finding places in the Northwest Woods without GPS wasn’t fun when I first landed out east. Especially at night. Then there are the things that never change or grow old seeing. The classic example is the forever white mill on Gardiner’s Island. The Montauk Lighthouse with its new brick face look (still wondering how I feel about that). Then there are the dunes of Montauk and the vistas of Lazy Point. The walks down Main Street and Jobs Lane in Southampton Village, or driving through the farms of Mecox, in Water Mill. The timeless horse farms of Bridgehampton, and the always busy historic Main Street of Sag Harbor. We all love the timelessness of these places.
Still doing interviews weekly it’s strange when most of the folks are 20-30 years younger, but I enjoy their energy and excitement for the future. They only know a world with internet, smart phones, and debit cards or Apple Pay. The future is always in front of everyone and for these folks that’s a longer time. I have another birthday at hand.
Nowadays birthdays are not so much to mark aging but to celebrate that you were born. Over the years my celebrating birthdays has evolved, from family, to school mates, friends, and now just whomever is still around and knows me. The people who know who and what I am now.
At last, I have to salute my parents who on a cold December 19, 1952, welcomed me into the world. I was born prematurely and spent the first two weeks in an oxygen device. My mom called me “Tom orbit,” because I looked like a tiny space baby. I was blue and needed a lot of attention. I spent my first Christmas in a hospital.
Now, I still look at all things with the eyes and heart of a twenty-something person. In my photos I see what time has done to me. I remember Lauren Bacall’s line to us covering her and Alec Baldwin talking about the movie, “Murder on the Orient Express.” In mid-sentence about whatever she was saying about the movie, she turned to us, and in that pure Lauren Bacall whisper voice said, “Time that enemy of us all!”
Yet I still believe, “Time is forever on my side!” The last twenty years on the south shore of the east end of Long Island has truly been a gift. I try to share my love and appreciation of this gift in every article I write.
After all these years I still consider myself a guest, but an appreciative, thankful guest. I respect the legacy of those who came before me and enjoy their pride of being pure Long Islanders. My wife Cindi is pure Long Island and has taught and loved me since the day we first met in Sag Harbor. There is no doubt that as long as the ocean washes up on Long Island’s southern shores the east end will remain a special place. Thanks everyone.