North vs. South in the Hamptons

Next month, a good college friend from North Carolina will visit the East End—and Long Island—for the first time.

When I went to school at Wake Forest, freshman year was a culture shock. An endless stream of questions constantly ran through my head. Pulled pork is a thing? It takes how long to order a sandwich at a deli? What do you mean cowboy boots are an appropriate fashion statement?

Fortunately, I adapted my lifestyle to appreciate most of what the South has to offer. Since moving back North, I’ve realized that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the minutia of daily life, and I try to be mindful of slowing down and taking a breather every once in awhile. Easy to do in such beautiful surroundings.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the “Go! Go! Go!” mentality that permeates the glamorous Hamptons day-to-day.

But I’m imaging my friend will have a bit of a reverse culture shock when she arrives. The kind that doesn’t stem from lack of culture but just lack of recognition of what it’s really like to live here.

I realized how misleading the phrase “I live on Long Island” is last fall when driving to catch the ferry and visit some friends. I was stuck behind a tractor—typical—and texted a picture of my predicament to say I may miss the boat. The response: “Where the %$*& are you coming from?!”

When I stop for a minute and think about what other aspects of living out here may seem strange to an out-of-towner, there are quite a few points that incite a hilarious reaction.

Long Island has a wine country. Why is this so hard to believe? And, bonus! It’s a good one.

There are trees. When my cousin’s wife visited Long Island for the first time, her first comment when we picked her up from MacArthur was how many trees she had noticed from above. It apparently came as a news flash that the island extended farther than 15 or so miles east of Manhattan. (I’ve run into similar bouts of “distance sticker shock” when I tell people that I live about 90 miles away from the city. Long Island is that long? Yes. Hence the name.)

That we have our very own country music station. “Empire State of Mind” aside, who says we’re just into pop/rock/R&B hits? My Country 96.1, based in Center Moriches, spits out country tunes with the best of them.

That we call “Montauk Highway” a highway. Similar to the proverbial “Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways,” this question goes “Why do we call a one-lane street that intersects numerous Main
Streets a highway?”

Some additional questions I expect to hear that weekend: Why do people love Long Wharf in Sag Harbor? How do you pronounce Quogue, Quiogue, Napeague, Amagansett, Jobs Lane? Why is East Hampton two words, Southampton one word, the “West Hampton” in West Hampton Dunes two words, Westhampton one word? Suffolk is the most-farmed county in New York State? The firemen and EMS workers are volunteers? (Thank you to all!) Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every weekend in March? What celeb lives in that house? Why does the East End seem to be trendsetters for everything except late–night coffee shops?

As a runner, I’m sure she’ll wonder why there is a lack of a running trail system out here. There are hiking trails, but those typically differ from running trails, which need to be fairly wide and regularly cleared of debris.

This is not to say that we don’t plan on taking advantage of said hiking trails. A trip to Camp Hero in Montauk is definitely in order. Because when the trees that engulf the army paraphernalia abruptly give way to steep cliffs falling into the Atlantic, it’s easy to forget about tractors and weird spellings and instead question whether we’ve hiked to the shores of Ireland.

Maybe that solves the mystery of the frequent St. Patrick’s Day parades.

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