When people ask about my hometown or where I’m from, I rarely mention the Connecticut town I grew up in or the Pennsylvania hometown of my parents that felt like mine, too. The “where everybody knows your name” of my life is Branford now, and has been for the past 22 years.
And then there’s the Cape.
The roads and beaches of Cape Cod are oddly familiar to me, though I swear I have only been there a handful of times. The breadth of shoreline, the presence of the ocean, the wildlife and change of seasons feel far away and just like home — at the same time.
It must be that way for a lot of folks — that mix of some place new and just like home. On this recent trip, it seemed like everyone I met was from Connecticut. Visiting or transplanted as a docent in a museum or a ranger at the National Seashore, they all somehow found their way to the Cape. Like me.
Part of what makes it such a special place to visit are the people you get to know, the conversations that continue, the connections and reconnections.
Beverly, the owner of the hotel I stay at, was happy to see me again this year. She booked me in the same room as last, and we took time to talk about the cats in our lives — my Emily who I was tempted to bring with me, and her Norman who passed away last year. When I left she gave me a hug as kind as my Grandmother’s and said she’d see me next year.
Gabe, the young waiter at my favorite restaurant, knew me as soon as he arrived at my table. “Hey! How are you?” he asked, laughing. He even remembered my food and drink of choice…from last year!
A stuffed quohog – my favorite. Missing from photo: whisky sour on the rocks.
On a round of souvenir shopping, I had a chance to meet local business owner Om Singhal. As if I’d been shopping there forever, we had an hour-long conversation about our businesses and day-to-days. He showed me a photo of the time he met President Truman and talked about meeting his wife for the first time. “Simple living,” is his philosophy he told me. “Simple living, hard thinking.”
Om and I pose next to his Indian Clothing store, in front of the elephant he had built from a dream, in honor of Ganesh.
At the Lobster Pot in Provincetown, my friend MaryAnne and I met Cassie, friend-of-a-friend and bartender extraordinaire. She welcomed us with a broad smile, then shared the secret that our mutual friend had treated us to dinner! We felt like regulars and left with big hugs all around.
MaryAnne, Cassie and me, celebrating MaryAnne’s birthday at the Lobster Pot.
As I was leaving on Saturday, driving west down Route 6 and over the Sagamore Bridge, I felt like I was leaving old friends. I couldn’t help but wonder — would I get to see them when I head back again next year? I hope.
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PHOTOS ©2013, Jen Payne