My memories of Provincetown are like a series of snapshots that begin when I’m five. Its 1961 and I’m walking on the wharf with my father. The water looks black and deep and I’m afraid, wondering what it would be like to fall in. But my father 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 and 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 plays from the radio.
1980. I marry my college sweetheart and Randy and I honeymoon on the Cape. One night we stay in one of those little white cottages that line the outskirts of P-town. That 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.
1995. 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 becomes a yearly ritual. That first visit with our sons, Randy and I place bets on how long it will take them to notice P-town is different from Easton, Connecticut, that Provincetown is a place where men are free to hold hands and women kiss on the streets.
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 his caretaker. Randy and I just had our 33rdanniversary. Our boys are young men who drive to P-town on their own. Over the generations, Provincetown has become an old, crazy friend we all must visit each year. Someday I hope to return with grandchildren and walk with them on the wharf.
|Our writing group: Teresa, Sally, Helen and myself