First, let me just say this: My 30s, so far, have been wonderful. However.
They’ve also been a super-efficacious black hole into which all manner of pleasant, idle habits and rites have flown. Long, lazy brunches spent pouring over the New York Times Style section; Saturday shopping sprees; the all-important practice of sipping bad Prosecco like it’s a bottomless Big Gulp before 5 p.m.; spa sessions; sample sales.
In retrospect, my 20s were – between falling in love with my husband, career changes and the usual family and friend psychodramas — a hazy stretch of harmless self-indulgence and silliness, soul-searching and, most of all, intent navel-gazing. Somehow, I managed to gather my merrily flapping wits and gird myself for the gaping maw of responsibility, bills and workaholism that have made my 30s the over-caffeinated, hurly-gurly, but still giddy and joyful ride that they are.
Do I ever actually want to go back to my single days of running around New York City with no one to answer to, unfettered and fancy free? Hell’s no.
But I do crave the odd afternoon of unapologetic, aggressively narcissistic preening. Where to go, and who with? No contest: East Hampton and my mom – a woman in desperate need of a dose of self-centered pomposity if there ever was one.
We blew our respective coups to celebrate her birthday and our (nominal, occasional) freedom, and hit the highway, our car pointed straight toward the biggest, baddest playground for hedonistic gourmandizing on the Eastern Seaboard.
The Hamptons! With 70 miles of pristine, light beige shoreline lapped by waves from the Atlantic Ocean, the Block Island Sound, Gardiners Bay, Napeague Bay and Fort Pond Bay, where the cost of living is 168% higher than the national average, and nary a bikini or a natural tan in sight. Heaven! The coldest depths of February is the best time to go, with hotel and spa deals aplenty, the antique shops and overpriced boutiques emptied of the Botoxed, entitled, squawking summer hordes, the menu reservations at Nick & Toni’s miraculously accessible, even if you aren’t Martha Stewart, Ina Garten or a member of a major hip hop star’s crew.
Aside from the jaw-dropping, semi-cheesy flash of the stores along Main Street and Newtown (Elie Tahari, Tiffany’s, John Varvatos, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, etc., J. Crew if you’re slumming), the endless antiques and home design stores, the gut-bustingly fab food, the inherent spirit of the place is a perfect amalgamation of the vertiginous highs and deep valleys that make up America’s landscape of spirited style.
It’s a fascinating melting pot in the Hamptons: equal parts Vegas, Miami Beach and Greenwich, CT. White-washed Scandinavian style, sharp cartoony Pop Art, Louis XVI porcelain gueridons.
The Hamptons, of course, have been a strange mix of haves and have nots, of ostentation and reticence, glitzy disco, louche beauty and recherche refinement, since the first English settlers “bought” the land from Native Americans in 1640.
Jackie O. was born and bred there; Gray Gardens famously dug its Cat Lady on Quaaludes claws into its terroir (and will never leave off its downward spiral of bedazzled degeneration, despite poor Jackie’s best attempts at restitution), Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Pollock and Robert Motherwell spilled paint all over the peninsula and Lizzie Grubman led the pack of over-funded, undernourished bottle blondes dancing on table tops at the Conscience Point Inn (until … she didn’t).
We couldn’t wait to soak it in.
We came back inspired, rejuvenated, buffed and shined (thank you, Naturopathica), ready to dive back into the chaos!