Living in a place like this

The woman walking in front of me is on the phone with her life coach. I know because I’m eavesdropping and feeling pretty smug about it. We are walking on a sidewalk in this shore town that is right next to the water — Long Island Sound, to be precise. I am enjoying the view. The woman is trying to work out something sticky in her personal life. It sounds like a love triangle. I can’t hear all of it because the waves drown out every other sentence. I should stop listening but I can’t help myself. It is a lifelong habit.

cfiles45109We both are out before the sprinklers have turned off, when mothers in grinning SUVs race out of the driveway as a fleet of battered vehicles rush in. Here drives the army of helpers necessary to maintain expansive homes — the nannies, the gardeners, the people handy with tools. There’s a crew already on the roof of a house whose roof I thought was just fine.

I am a renter here. It was not my choice to come to this chi-chi town, though it is a beautiful place with more services for seniors (like my husband, who points them out but refuses to avail himself of them) than you can ever imagine.

I walk by these houses frequently, and wonder, as I always do, what the people who live in them do for a living. In my neighborhood, you lived in a house you could afford, which meant for most of us, you didn’t live in much of a house. Four walls. A flushing toilet. An eat-in kitchen (I never knew there was any other kind. Dining rooms were for TV sitcom families, not mine). I walk by the tennis courts filled with women my age in tennis whites, past cars I don’t know the names of, and feel like a spy. I am lumping all these folks into the “comfortable rich” category. That is unfair of me but that, too, is a lifelong habit.

This is the kind of town people vacation in. The revolving cast of joggers and strollers and such keep me entertained as I sit on our front porch and watch the (well-heeled) world go by. I don’t think I could live in a place like this, but here I am, living in a place like this. Weird.

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2 responses to “Living in a place like this

  1. So many thoughts.

    Anybody yapping on their phone in public doesn’t deserve privacy, especially if their talking to their “life coach” (about a love triangle no less).

    I’m glad you live in a nice place. One of the reasons it’s nice is that it’s on the water where the rest of us get to pay a big chunk of the infrastructure repair after big storms so your well to do neighbors can maintain their lifestyle and block our view of the sound (sometimes I find myself rooting for global warming).

    I’ve been going to Cape Cod since I was a kid, when real people still used to live there. Other than the kids who’s families held enough property to cash in on tourism, virtually none of the locals I knew back then are still there. They got priced out.

    Provincetown used to be funky, edgy and exciting. Now it’s mostly white, rich and boring like a gay Bar Harbor.

    Rhode Island was famous for blue collar waterfront enclaves. A few still exist but they are mostly teardowns waiting for McMansions.

    I love my time on the Cape and RI where I’m not a one or two or even five percenter but grateful to be able to afford to spend time there, not for the people but the natural beauty. When I come home I’m a one percenter in the very poor town where I grew up. We divide ourselves in a lot of ways. Affordability is maybe the most pernicious.

    • What you said? Amen. We once rented a house on a street on the CT shore that was rebuilt THREE TIMES after storms. Three. Times. How is that OK, given the lack of resources that go to other towns?

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