White hair. In one day, I noticed more than I had seen in a year in Manhattan. And permanents. Curls all over heads, turning older women into lambs. Fashions dating back in time. No, that's not quite accurate. No sense of fashion. A sort of immutability in women's looks. But not Jane's. While her approaching middle age might be visible in a certain widening about the waist, her hair remained a flashy honey yellow, a color that could be created only artificially. Hair dye alone identified her as a transplant.
In Sakonnet Bay, people aged and looked it. I had auburn hair and there was no way I was going to let nature take its course. At this time of my life, age thirty-seven, the only thing I had to do about gray hair was extract one strand at a time, but I already had plans to eradicate one irritating vertical crease between my eyebrows. I'd read in Elle about this magical remedy, Botox. A little shot of botulism. No beau of mine would ever boast, Lily doesn't wear a lick of makeup. But many women here didn't wear a lick, and I found it cozy. Sam and I were moving into a village of grandmas.
After we walked the business district, Jane took me on a ride through the pricey area. "The ocean-side of Maine," she called it. An elegant landscape of groomed gardens and sprawling houses, but deserted, lifeless. It was late April, a month before the weekenders and summer residents from Manhattan would begin their occupation. Then we went north into my future neighborhood.
Here locals lived on tree-lined streets in two-story shingled dwellings on identical quarter-acre lots. The houses appeared to have been built at the same time, because they resembled one another like members of a large extended family. Jane said they dated from between 1875 and 1920. Each had a bit of personality-a path bordered in whitewashed rocks, dormer windows edged with gingerbread-but only personality, not eccentricity, and that was further confirmation of solidity, of a world that fads passed by.
I wrote about our move for Ladies' Home Journal, in a cheerful upbeat piece, which was what the magazine always wanted. I described my going-away party at a SoHo bar, claiming that my friends had sworn to visit. They did promise-that was true-and we all kissed and cried; but they were like me, diehard Manhattanites. To leave the city, unless it was to go someplace thrilling like Paris, they would have to be towed. I said that the traffic, crowds, and noise were driving Sam and me away. In fact, I thrived on chaos. It was unlikely we'd be back, I insisted, neglecting to mention that we'd sublet our rent-stabilized apartment month to month, to a writer friend who needed an office. I also enthused about how glorious it would be to see stars at night, when actually a grand sparkling night sky would turn out to be intimidating. Fodder for my overactive fearful imagination. Until I moved to a quiet place, I didn't understand how fears and fantasies could expand to take up all available space. So in this article, I was as inaccurate in projecting my tranquil future as in describing my troubled present. I omitted that my fifteen-year-old son was sneaking out to Manhattan clubs. Several times I'd caught him returning at four in the morning. And I certainly didn't mention the incident that had triggered my panic and subsequent break with the city: I had found a knife in Sam's underwear drawer. A steak knife, imitation-wood handle and blade with serrated edge. I'd been hunting for drugs, been prepared to uncover a baggie full of grass, when I discovered the knife instead.
I removed it and mentioned it to neither Sam nor his father, whom Sam visited in Massachusetts every fourth weekend. I couldn't imagine waving and yelling, What was this doing there? Besides, I thought I knew. Its presence was consistent with a crayon drawing Sam had made as a six-year-old, after the divorce: a stick figure of a boy under a sky filled with long narrow triangles.
Reprinted from Big City Eyes by Delia Ephron by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Delia Ephron. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Discover your next great read here
A library is a temple unabridged with priceless treasure...
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.