Next week I'll drive north ( Two hours further north than Ashaway ) to Easthampton. My hometown. I'll pick my mother up and drive her down to Rhode Island. She'll spend a few days here. We'll eat lots of seafood and go for some drives. Watch Hill will be one of our destinations. Mom loves Watch Hill, with its mansions and its ghosts of the rich and the famous who have lived and died in that tony village by the sea.
Donna and I took a drive through Watch Hill today. Night and day. Oil and water. Pick your comparison. Watch Hill Rhode Island is only a fifteen minute drive from Ashaway, Rhode Island. But, in fact, they are light years apart. Watch Hill ain't no trailer park. $10 million summer cottages, hidden by the green leaves of summer, are exposed this time of year. Like billionaires caught with their pants down...
When I was a kid my mom, dad and I vacationed in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Hampton Beach was a blue collar mecca, an inexpensive resort to which mill workers and their families were pulled like a tide. Just north of there, along the long and winding road leading to Portland, were mansions not unlike those in Watch Hill.
We had a ritual, my father, mother and I. Dad would drive, and mom and I would be passengers. He'd take us on a tour, point out the places where the rich and the infamous spent their summers.
" Which one do you want? " he'd say to my mother. And my mother would squint, her eyes narrowing as she looked towards the sun setting off to the west.
" That one, " she'd say.
My parents never owned their own home. Never built any equity. They paid the rent.
I was 39 and Donna was 38 when we had the house in which I write these words built. We had two houses. Owned two houses before we were 40.
Four years ago we sold that other house. Now this is the one. This is the one that's located just a stone's throw from the beach. The beach which is located not that far, as the herring gull flies, from that stretch of scenic route, A1A. Where those mansions were. The ones dad pointed to and asked my mother:
" Which one do ya want? "