I wasn’t joking all that much when I said while at the Sag Harbor Cinema recently that there was no more need to go to the city, the wonderfully reborn cinema providing all the comforts of home. Indeed, a couple of visits to Sag Harbor since, with O’en and tax forms, visits during which we sniffed desultorily along the village’s narrow streets and beamed when passers-by — several of them as a matter of fact — said “what a beautiful dog,” have only served to confirm me in the view that that village is the big city for me.
I was urged to move there once by this paper’s late editor, on arriving here a half-century ago, but demurred, thinking the houses — fixer-uppers were going for around $10,000 then — were too close together, not what I, a former Alphabet City tenant in search of bucolia, was looking for at the time. If only. Or, as my late stepmother, a Frenchwoman, used to say, “Eeef. Eeef only . . .”
Not that I’ve minded it all these years living in scruffy Springs. You’ve got elbow room, the yards are ample. You can spend many happy hours with the ones you love, and there’s a community there if sought out. But Sag Harbor has an allure for me now that it didn’t used to. Perhaps it’s because East Hampton Village, where I work, has become over the years less of a place, a mere gallery of sterile shops. It hasn’t the life that Sag Harbor does, and I remarked on that to Mary when O’en and I returned from a delightful morning there this past week, perhaps made all the more euphoric for having dropped off tax forms attesting to the fact that when it came to the federal government we owed nothing, and that when it came to the state, little.
There are times these days, not frequently, but every now and then, when I am transported by a feeling of being connected to things — to the past, to the present. There is a feeling of peace. I felt that way walking in Sag Harbor the other day. It was a joy to be among glistening 19th-century white clapboard houses that have been treated reverently, to feel akin to people strolling along, and to look into shops that seemed familiar.
It’s a good place to go if you want to feel the transcendence of the everyday.