“Fictional and indulgent beach reads to remove you from the 9 to 5 state of mind…to the To27 state of mind.”
Gifts from the East End
I have no idea why everyone, after their 21st birthday, cries when they turn another year older. My “big 2-1” was 5 years ago and it has only been up hill ever since. This is solely because I realize that with each year older, my tolerance for B.S. (from men, friends, older cousins obsessed with one-upmanship and bosses with severe Napolean complexes) diminishes. Towards the end of 25, when I escaped to Miami with the girls, it reached an all time low of zero when Nikki decided to unpack her self-inflicted unhappiness from home and take it out on us during our rare girls’ vacation. My anger convinced me she owed Leila, Krissy and I a full reimbursement for her impetuous behavior. I visit Miami twice a year for business but never do I get to go with all my girlfriends from college. The trip was over a month ago and I haven’t spoken to Nikki since we parted ways at JFK. I resisted confrontational tirades or lengthy e-mails to dramatize the demise of our friendship. No time, no energy. I simply ceased calling, texting and G-chatting during work. Whenever Nikki did contact me I kept my responses terse, brief and succinct, but not rude to insinuate any argument. I had to focus on friends worthy of my time, a demanding career and my boyfriend who is just as busy as me. Yes, I expect 26 to be B.S.-free and fabulous.
When I began making my last-minute birthday plans, the exhausting soap opera at South Beach inspired me to skip the usual mass-invite. I didn’t need to party with all my friends and their friends in some sweaty 2nd Avenue bar. I just needed A.J. and Montauk. I wanted the simplicity of Montauk to make up for the getaway that Nikki single-handedly botched.
Our visit coincided with Montauk’s Fine Arts Show which always hits the town square’s lawn at the end of May. Art is of course objective but A.J. and I spend the whole Spring day skimming through the maze of Rothko-wannabes in search of artists displaying raw talent and originality. He spends a good hour conversing with Ken Orton, an Australian man who resembles a refined Santa Claus and specializes in portraitures of jars and glasses by sunlit windowsills. He is also amused by a young photographer from Williamsburg whose gallery consists of remarkable snapshots of graffiti art in New York and London.
The paintings and collages of one artist, Sarah Kargol, catches my eye. At first her displays urge me to whisper “copycat Burton!” to A.J., but when I saw her collection of purses, I knew I had to own one. She bought vintage hardcover books from the 18th and 19th century, hollowed the pages out, sewed on quirky straps and interior lining and finished it with a mini appliqué of a monster in high heels. The monsters were assembled with patches of old cloth and buttons for eyes. The finished product was a playful, sexy and youthful masterpiece of art that just happened to multi-perform as a fabulous accessory.
“I would be the coolest girl in New York if I rocked this!” I told A.J.
He offered to buy me two but I proudly told him I earn my own money and I wanted to purchase my first original art pieces for myself. On my actual birthday on Wednesday, he gave me a 2 ct. emerald ring (my birthstone) framed in round-cut diamonds with earrings to match. Within our year together he had already given me a sufficient amount of jewelry but this wasn’t another cute Tiffany & Co. heart locket or a sterling starfish pendant. This time, his stunning gifts made me feel like a grown woman who just received heirlooms for our future daughters, if that’s how things end up.
My two new monster purses, on the other hand, made me feel like a little girl who just walked out of the American Girl store on 5th Ave with brand new, twin dolls. As we drove west on 27 towards Cyril’s Fish House for happy hour, I couldn’t decide which purse I loved more. I decided to sport the turquoise purse because it matched my sundress perfectly. As I sipped Cyril’s signature margaritas, a photographer from Hampton Life Magazine even snapped my photo for its East End Trend page. A.J. and I ended our day with stuffed lobsters at Gosman’s Dock as the sun set over Montauk Harbor and lit the early evening sky a warm blend of pink, blue and lavender. Montauk officially made up for Miami two-fold.
Two weeks later back at my apartment in Long Island City, a FedEx man awakens me from an oscitant mood. He hands me a large package from a gallery in Amagansett. In the package is an 18×30 Sarah Kargol mixed-medium, which I clearly remember cost $4,000. This could not be another present from A.J. I read the attached card: “Tabitha, the photo of you in Hampton Life took my breath away, you still got it Young Lady. –Marco.” Apparently my 42-year-old paramour from Coconut Grove didn’t take my parting words, which intended to officially end our three years of bi-annual flings in Miami, seriously at all. I looked at the giant canvas. It was a sublime painting of an elegant tea setting, except Kargol’s signature monsters in heels were the hostess and guests. I couldn’t believe it was now in my possession. I then looked at the card and realized continuing this materialistic, shallow relationship would negate my goal to eliminate B.S. from the remainder of my twenties. I had to make a decision immediately. Scuttle down the hall and chase the delivery man to request a Return To Sender? Or hang this gift on my wall, call Marco and ask him how soon he could send me tickets to Miami?