Home. And home again.
A friend of some years re-located his new boyfriend from the UK and they soon set up housekeeping together. Sometime later, I was asked for a recommendation for a vacation spot and naturally I recommended Provincetown. I even forwarded the Provincetown Business Guild's website, with it's huge banner headline of:
Eat, Drink & Be Mary!!
The website was filled with pictures of happy homos, shirtless and holding hands, and lesbians lazing in the dunes. I even recommended a realtor who rented them a condo in the West End across from the Mussel Beach gym. I believe they went up for 10 days after Carnival. I never heard a word from them until about a month later when I pressed the subject.
Apparently the partner had a perfectly dreadful time. Sadly, Provincetown was not the quaint New England fishing village he'd been led to expect. And there were all those dreadful muscle boys walking around without shirts. The restaurants were few, too pricey and not very good. There wasn't much to do. Going to the beach entailed a huge hike in the blazing sun. He'd hated the Boatslip and its drunken disco-dancing patrons. They went once. My friend was forced to shop to the A & P and prepare all meals at home. The only outside sustenance was taken at Cafe Blase, because it was "cheap and cheerful". There were no visits to the A-House. No pizza at Spiritus.
There was unspoken resentment that I might have sent them to this Sodom-By-The-Sea. How could I?
Needless to say this has never, ever been my experience of Provincetown.
Tim and I had a great week.
We have it all down to a science at this point. We leave at 5:00 AM and make the trip in under 6 hours, including a couple of stops for breakfast and stretching. We miss the majority of the I95 traffic and have no problems at the Bourne bridge. We just breeze right over. I am always elated by our passage through North Truro, where Pilgrim Lake sparkles above the yellow and green dunes on our right, and lines of identical white and green cottages dot the shoreline on the left. I know within minutes we'll be turning left to town.
We park the car on the pier and head out into town. Our house won't be ready for us for a couple of hours, but this allows us to have some lunch, and scope out the changes that have occurred over the past year. We get a big "Welcome to Provincetown, sweeties!" from the taller of the Hat Sisters as we enter Bubala's. Could you ask for a better greeting? We lunch, walk the streets and check out the many sights to behold. We check into our little Winthrop Street rental, which looks exactly the same as it did last year. White, white, white is the color of our condo! From our special beach box we pull out sarongs purchased for this very reason and drape the white slipcovered furniture. We buy big bunches of flowers on Commercial Street. We market at the Grand Union (we mourn the late A & P), shower and head out to the Boatslip.
As we've been going the same week for the past several years, we've gotten to know other people who do the same thing. And we get to see everybody, lots of hugs and kisses and nods. We meet up with Bo and Jeff from Rochester. And Scott from London. And Chris from Washington. We meet new people like Jeff from LA and Greg from New Hampshire. We pick up flirtations from the years past. We listen to MaryAlice's usual set of what our friend Anthony calls Pots and Pans. We notice that there seems to be a preponderance of Police-types and wonder if there's a GOAL convention. There is not. Our friend M. would be in hog heaven, so to speak. I can't help staring at the bay, and the taking in the spectacular quality of the light, in which everything is illuminated vividly. Someone will comment on it every couple of minutes as it changes.
When Tea is over, we take the short walk back to Winthrop Street, past the drag queens and leather boys busking their shows, contests and dances. We collect a stack of promotional cards to scatter across the top of the cabinet in the hall as we enter our home. Tim fixes Manhattans and we listen to Jeri Southern as the sun sets. I light some new scented candles. We marvel at how happy we are to be here.
We head out for a simple dinner of seafood, and after a quick hello drink at the A-House head home to collapse into bed. Tomorrow morning we'll get on our vacation schedule, which is regimented, but no schedule at all.
1. Wake Up. When we feel like it.
2. Light Breakfast, lots of coffee. Read.
3. Walk through town. Shop as we like. Errands.
4. Light Lunch.
5. Home. Read.
6. Pool at the Boatslip. Rent a chaise and a towel. Sit in the pool with the above-mentioned gentlemen and get waterlogged and tan.
7. Home. Nap for Tim and more reading for me. Oh yeah. 500 pushups.
9. Jazz and Cocktails.
11. Ice Cream for Tim and a walk on the pier.
This gets repeated daily, with minor variations. Martinis with Bo and Jeff and their housemates, under the trees in the garden of their lovely house right before you get to the Coast Guard base.
A trip to Wellfleet for Lobster rolls or oysters less than 100 feet from where they're harvested, eaten on a deck before which spreads the picture postcard view of all time. Dinners eaten at Lorraine's, Vorelli's, Sal's and of course, the Lobster Pot. We like to eat there a couple of times a week upstairs at the bar with Jimmy, one of the world's most handsome men. We flirt all through dinner and he flirts right back. Frankly, everybody eating at the bar is engaged in the same behavior. It's why we're there. This year Jimmy insisted on calling me Big Daddy. Ask me if that bothers me. Not one bit.
Okay, the town is changing. The real estate boom has hit Provincetown hard. Guest houses and private residences have been turned into condos. There is major talk all week about the fact that the Boatslip is about to be sold for 14.5 million dollars and where will we all go next year? I'm sad to see the town change. I know it won't be like this next year, and even less so the year after. I'm sad because I can see that I won't be able to be one of the many 60+ year olds who are still up there, having the time of their lives. You can do that in Provincetown. I don't think the town will remain this way that much longer. So I plan on enjoying it as much as I can while it's still there.