‘Heading home to a hurricane’
Well. At least I wasn’t the only one traveling toward Hurricane Henri.
East-End friends and relations had shared stories of long gas lines and even-longer traffic lines as Henri-spooked Hamptonites fled West.
But, judging by the crowd waiting to board the next bus (er, excuse me, “Jitney”) at the Long Island Airport Connection — a hot, dusty patch of concrete smack-dab next to the roaring traffic on the LIE — there were plenty of other fools heading East. (For those of you who are not familiar with Long Island Geography, “east” is the direction you go to get to The Hamptons; “west” is the way out. The LIE is the Long Island Expressway; trust me, there is nothing “express” about it.)
Also, I must interject a teensy qualification here, mainly because “The Hamptons” sounds so all-fired snooty and all. For most of us East-Enders, The Hamptons just happens to be where we live — and shop for groceries and vote and go to the dump and fold laundry. Oh, I have spotted Sir Paul, but he was standing in line at the farmer’s market just like everyone else.
Pro Tip: you can spot a “local” out here because we always say “hello” and smile, even when met with stony stares aimed at us over a cellphone screen.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
I had just spent a week staying with my mother and visiting my Favorite Sister Laura and Favorite Bro-in-Law Dave. The Child, when she heard my plans, asked to join me. (Bless her, she also rented the car — and drove.)
We ate funeral hot dogs and strolled the Portland Rose Garden and played Scrabble and went to Happy Hour and connected with cousins over steaks and deviled eggs.
But all good things must come to an end, and, before I had even adjusted to Pacific Coast Time, there I was waiting for my 4AM Lyft on Saturday morning. (Thanks again, Oldest Younger Brother Scott, for the tip about Lyft!)
I had time after clearing security to catch up with the weather news while waiting to board my flight to JFK. Which was a mixed blessing. Hurricane!?! Really?!? How could I have missed that news?
My Delta flight was so uneventful I was able to push Henri right out of my mind. My little cone of airplane unreality even gave me time to catch up with Mare of Easttown. (Highly recommend. Kate Winslet! Odd accents!)
As we got close to New York City, the pilot did direct our attention out the windows: “Those of you on the right side of the aircraft should be able to see the line of storm clouds building.” Gee, thanks, Mr. Pilot. (And yes, I was on the right side of the aircraft.)
The flight was so easy-peasy, we even got in early. At 2:30 instead of 3:00. But then what? Join The Dude in Amagansett for a hurricane hoedown? Or weenie out and head to the Ken & Barbie House in nice safe NYC? A call to his Dudeness (during which he offered to pay for a Lyft to whisk me to Amagansett) convinced me to opt for Togetherness.
After booking the earliest Jitney I could get — the 4:45 — I flagged down a yellow cab, whose lying-through-his-teeth driver assured me he knew where the Airport Connection was. (I did not take Dude Man up on his offer to pay for a Lyft, since when I checked it cost upwards of $300.)
I then spent the next half hour shouting directions gleaned from Google maps from the all-windows-open un-airconditioned cab’s steamy back seat to the clueless driver. (Yes, I did tip him; I was overheated, not heartless.)
I reached the Airport Connection around 3:30, and settled in on a metal bench to wait for the 4:45. I was glad I hadn’t opted for waiting inside the only business I could spot — a branch of Hooters — since more and more Jitney-bound people kept getting dropped off and bench space was at a premium.
Among about a dozen would-be riders, there was a very loud new grandmother-to-be (with the largest wheelie bag I’d ever seen) who had just flown in from Greece to join her pregnant daughter, a twenty-something who “lived for his music,” and an exotic blonde model with a beautiful dog she refused to let anyone touch. Twenty-something musician makes kissy noises while reaching to pet dog. Model: (with look that could freeze vodka) “Ask first”.
Well, 4:45 came and went. So did 5:45. Somewhere in there a woman got a message saying the Jitney had been cancelled. I immediately sidled up to a safe-looking woman and asked if she’d like to share a Lyft. Yup. So I booked it. And — you guessed it — the Jitney pulled up just as the Lyft driver did. We opted for the Jitney, since even splitting the Lyft was a tad on the pricey side (though the fare had dropped to $225).
I finally got home around 8:00, poured myself a large Manhattan, then tried my best to focus on the impending peril of Monsieur Henri.
But, goldarn it. I was just too darned tired.
Amagansett, New York. August 2021