My memories of Provincetown are like a series of snapshots that begin when I’m five. Its 1961. I’m walking on the wharf with my father. The water looks black and deep and oily and I’m afraid, wondering what it would be like to fall in. But he holds my hand tightly and I feel safe.
That night my mother, father, and I sit on a bench watching people stroll by. My mother gives me my first taste of fried scallops and I love their creamy sweetness. My parents are tan and smiling.
Its 1974. I’m a college student strolling Commercial Street with its colorful flags, boutiques and eccentric parade. I chambermaid at a nearby motel and although hate making beds and scrubbing toilets, it subsidizes drinks at Governor Bradford’s and buying gauzy sun dresses. Everywhere I go, “Waterloo” by Abba is playing from transistor radios.
Its 1980. I married my college sweetheart and Randy and I honeymoon on the Cape. We stay in one of those little white cottages that dot the outskirts of P-town. One night we make our way to the wharf. I think of my father holding my hand when I was little to keep me safe. In contrast, my new husband pretends to throw me in.
Its 1996. We bring our two little boys for the first time to Provincetown, this time loaded with strollers and juice boxes. We have lunch at the Lobster Pot and ice cream at Lewis’s, which has now become a yearly ritual.
That first visit with our sons, Randy and I place bets on how long it will take our two boys to notice P-town is different from Easton, Connecticut. Provincetown is a place where men are free to hold hands and women kiss on the streets.
Its 2013. I’m with my writing group, staying with old friends and meeting new ones. Over fifty years have passed since that first walk on the wharf with my father. The hands that kept me safe now tremble with Parkinson’s disease. My mother is my father’s constant caretaker.
Randy and I just celebrated our 33rdanniversary. Our boys are young men who drive to P-town on their own.
All the seasons of our lives have happened in Provincetown. This place is like an old, crazy friend we must visit each year, a touchstone to generations passing.
Who knows? Someday I hope to return with my grandchildren. Like my father, I’ll walk with them on the wharf and hold their hands and keep them safe.
Have you been to Provincetown? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!