Despite my best efforts, I’m close to an hour late to meet Alex at his place in Brooklyn for my ride out to Sag Harbor for a long Memorial Day weekend with friends. As if to add insult to injury, Emily has traveled out earlier in the day and accomplished the more difficult trip of taking both of our dogs and all of her kitchen supplies.
Needless to say we arrive later than expected.
The house in Sag Harbor is a pure rental. Definitely not the house you would design if you were actually going to live there yourself. This is the house you build if you are trying to make money renting it to large groups.
It has eight bedrooms, each with its own bathroom (two of the showers don’t work) and a basement that could probably sleep another four (if it wasn’t gross from being flooded). It has a basketball court, tennis court, and volleyball court (with no room left over for an actual yard). It has a pool and a jacuzzi (the pool is freezing, the heater busted), and when Matt inquired about the pool heat “No pool heat at this time,” is the only text response from the owner.
Inside it has a strange layout and design, which feels unique (except that it’s in a complex with two other copies of the exact same house.) I start to wonder if perhaps the photos we’d all seen were not actually this house but instead one of the three identical houses that was in the best condition to be photographed.
In any event, it turns into a comedy routine; many things simply don’t work—random light switches won’t turn on, random doors won’t close, the stairs used to have carpet but it has all been ripped up and left strangely unfinished.
This is actually pretty perfect for the 12 or so of us old NYU college friends who are going to call it home for the weekend. It is great to see and to spend time with everyone. We are a competitive bunch, and we play many and various games of cards and board, as well as utilizing the various courts at our disposal.
“Who’s got next game?” is a repeated refrain all weekend and our dogs are forced to spend huge stretches of the time indoors because the tennis/badminton/basketball drives them both so crazy they are unable to resist jumping into the game and carrying off the ball/birdie.
When our older French bulldog, Maddy, gets ahold of a basketball, she’s unable to get her mouth around it (thank goodness). The ball bounces off her little nose as she chases it comically around the yard. She gets herself so worked up, it takes an afternoon to calm down, and she stumbles around the house gasping and panting like only a Frenchie can.
I feel alternately like a kid and grown up—old enough to split the rent on a house in the Hamptons, but young enough to spend the whole time drinking and competing loudly. The adulthood wins out as the cigarette smokers have gradually gone down in numbers, and the quality of the food and drink has grown exponentially.
Most of that has to do with Emily, who is a master in the kitchen. I’m constantly impressed by her grace as she floats around the room, dressed in her tennis whites, plus apron, a large smile stretched across her face. A few hours later she delivers a beautiful meal for 12. Crab crusted cod, ribs and pulled pork sandwiches are a few of the highlights. Each and every meal ravaged by the group.
The last night we play poker. I’m doing well for a while and make it down to the last four at the table. Then, I go all in on a silly hand and lose.
In this moment I feel so lucky to be sitting with old friends, sipping a refreshing gin and tonic, having just enjoyed an amazing meal that I don’t even mind this dilapidated mansion.