Earlier this year, my good friend Gerald Theron pointed out how the upcoming summer would mark the 30th year anniversary of our first season working full-time on Martha’s Vineyard. After a shocked moment of wonder and amazement at the passing of time elapsed (as these now-frequent moments must do), I believe this was the instant I knew I’d be back on this island for one more go-around. What other fitting way could there be to celebrate such a grand occasion?
The initial summer of ’93 felt strangely magical from the beginning. After ten years of life in Boston, I had finally made the internal commitment of now being ready for a move to New York City - but the idea of first spending five months at my post-college favorite vacation destination did not exist in any corner of my brain. And then a friend of mine came to visit before I’d given my notice to Turner Fisheries at the Westin Hotel Copley Place. He surprised me with the news of having attained a management job at a new restaurant in Edgartown. When he learned of my imminent plans, he enthusiastically prodded me to first experience an island summer first-hand; we could work together, find an apartment together, and maybe even locate some venue to play our guitars. What on earth could be more fun?
I hadn’t planned on giving my one-month notice in early March but soon I happily did. What a perfect way of getting me ready for a new life in New York City - a one-time summer season on Martha’s Vineyard!!
But two weeks into my notice, my friend called with the news that this new restaurant had already been sold. He would not be working there. He had instead decided to move out of Massachusetts altogether and return to our home state of Vermont.
After considering options - I could extend my notice, move to NYC earlier than planned, abandon the whole idea of leaving my Westin Hotel family altogether - I came to the realization that dreams of a one-time return to youth via a summer job on a summer island had taken on a life of its own. I asked friends for recommendations to the best restaurants for employment. And by early April I was driving away on a used but newly-purchased Toyota Tercel towards the ferry in Woods Hole as an early-season, recently-hired employee for an upscale restaurant named “l’etoile”.
This would end up being the unquestionably magical season Gerald and I still reminisce about to this day.
And yes, almost six months later I’d end up honoring my original intention of living and working in New York City.
But a return to island life, often in hastily-made last-minute decisions, would occur almost every summer since.
And here I am again. After being inspired by the above-noted observation by Gerald (who now lives full-time in Aspen, Colorado, happily blessed with a wife and kids), I decided this time around I’d need a car, after being without one since my island-friendly Honda Civic got totaled in late 2019. And much like the Toyota Tercel back in ’93, one kind of magically showed up.
(Although there have been some non-magical struggles with this ’13 VW Jetta so far for sure - please refer to the prior blog…)
This will be a slightly longer season than my recent ventures; I arrived on June 4th and am scheduled to stay through the end of September. And after years of restaurant work, I’m now mostly bartending at catered events, which often take me to secluded and amazingly beautiful areas I otherwise never would have known existed. Last night, at the apex of this steeply-graded dirt road in Menemsha, I poured more Chateau Margaux and Batard-Montrachet than perhaps ever before. Each year seems like a distinct adventure. And this one has just begun.
I’ll admit - the logistics and energy needed to continue making these annual “Escapes from New York” become increasingly difficult to manage as the years fly by. Maybe this neatly descriptive “30th Year Anniversary” landmark will be sufficient for me to reflect on all the memorable scenes (feel free to read “James Taylor Moments” from “These Stories Are True” - and then add the visual of me working at Barrack Obama’s 60th Birthday party two years ago) with the inner knowledge of now being ready to turn the page.
But then again, you never know. Check in with me this time next year.
As for now, well - I have the afternoon off and the sun has just magically made its way through the clouds. I’ll probably proof-read this blog once or twice and then head off to the beach…
And maybe afterwards treat myself to one of Donavon’s famous frozen mudslides at the harbor in Oak Bluffs…
Here’s a toast to another summer in Martha’s Vineyard! 30 years and counting!