We are spending the summer on the coast of New England. A lucky girl indeed, I am wearing seersucker and learning to drink white wine with ice cubes in it. Preferably in a monogrammed glass, or better yet one bearing the flag of my yacht club.
Sadly, I am working at a disadvantage, because I do not have a yacht club.
Because I do not have a yacht.
Or Topsiders, which I think are mandatory. More on that later.
One of my favorite things about summer in New England is the long evenings spent outdoors, eating lobster and steamers and hotdogs in their special New England style rolls, a sweaty drink in one hand with the ice cubes clattering, the strings of lights overhead, lounging on Adirondack chairs, the waves crashing in the distance. It's pretty fucking epic.
These are my people. This is where I come from. But every summer, I return to the fold, and I always worry that I don't fit in - that maybe I never did. For starters, no one at the yacht club would describe anything as "pretty fucking epic". But I really am trying to blend in a bit because for some reason I really really really want to (at the very least) not look like I am trying so damn hard. Oh, irony.
The thing about being here is that, without even realizing it, I become incredibly uptight - a fact that was pointed out to me last night by my incredibly NOT uptight friend Zard, who has known me since I was hiding kegs in bushes and sneaking out of the house after curfew to drink them. She manages to live here and remain totally true to herself - and I wonder why I can't do that. Instead, I feel like a chameleon trying to blend in. It's not a conscious decision - without even realizing it I begin to clench my jaw and revert to my ancestral Puritan self. I find myself doing, saying, and wearing things I wouldn't even think of "in real life". I pine for a Volvo station wagon and a monogrammed tote bag. I ride a bike with fenders and a wicker basket on the front. I order Dark and Stormys and carry a lobster pick in my glovebox.
I feel like a fraud - but here's my conundrum: Is my New England self the authentic me? Or is my Maui girl the real deal? In Maui, I have no worries about embarrassing my family or fitting in. Everyone there is so unique, so totally their own person. I have never felt pressure to conform, and certainly never felt like I needed certain material things in order to do so.
It's just......different for me here.
Here in New England, I wear one piece bathing suits to cover the tattoos.
I go to the salon and get subtle blonde highlights.
I wear sheer pink lipsticks and shimmery eyeshadows.
I go out for the evening sporting dresses in shades of lime and stripes of navy.
I leave the stilettos at home - I am on the hunt for a pair of these fancy sandals that are, apparently, de rigueur for the ladies.
I even bought some special red shorts.
The other night, I crashed a yacht club party and lounged on the deck in my cute dress, barefoot (no heels!) and sunburned. And then I looked to my left and saw THE SHORTS.
This man was leaning against the railing in full glory: his polo shirt and Topsiders, RayBans and.....the shorts. The shorts to end all shorts - and all conversations about shorts. Shorts, covered with tiny little embroidere-
"Does that guy have crabs on his shorts?" Zard leaned forward and nudged me with her elbow, tipping her glass in his direction.
"Um, yes. He certainly does. What the fuck is that all about?"
"Well," Zard said reasonably "better on your shorts than in them."
"Can't we just not have them at all?"
"No. You need to have crabs. Obviously."
You see the problem I am facing.
13 hours ago