Last time we spoke I was at the airport waiting for a plane to Boston where I then met Kedrin and my mother, took the Peter Pan bus 1.5 hours to Wood’s Hole and then a ferry to our final destination of Martha’s Vineyard. I was pretty sure we were headed for some innocent family fun. I mostly packed silk and oversized sweaters. You see, my brother is a full-fledged adult about 14 years my senior with a legitimate/demanding job in the medical field, and I have always admired him for this and other reasons. My mom has always compared the two of us because we have similar attitudes and similar taste in men. I see him about once a year, so I always try to make a solid impression.
When we first got on the island it was child’s play. A lot of “this is this” and “that is that” touring around town, photo-oping and hiding my tattoos. I figured I should try to pretend to be a “respectable adult” (I use that term a lot even though I don’t really know what it means) at least until we popped our first champagne. It was kind of working? I hadn’t seen my mom in a while and she had yet to mention anything about the fact that I have no money or how am I going to survive in New York if I just keep taking unpaid internships or have I been having unprotected sex. Things were going well so far.
My brother (his name is Nathan although everyone was calling him “Nate” in an official capacity, which I at first thought was weird but then attributed to his likely desire to simplify his Starbucks orders, which is originally why I started introducing myself as “Kat”), along with his friends whose names I have already forgotten, took us to the west side of the island to see the sunset. It was sort of unbelievable, partly because I don’t remember the last time I saw the sun set over the ocean, and partly because I hadn’t been outside without smelling feces and rat guts for the past five months. It may as well have been Aruba. Or Bermuda. Or anywhere else they sing about in that Beach Boys song where white girls frequently watch the sunset and then get mysteriously abducted. I realized that my brother and I are both single, which is probably the first time this has happened since he was in the closet and I was five. We both love to drink and talk shit. And we both do this thing pretty frequently:
Which is cool. We also both believe in decadence and overeating, so that night we all went to a seafood restaurant and ordered four tiers of oysters and shrimp cocktail and endless bowls of chowder. Our “unconventional” method of dining made everyone in the restaurant inexplicably angry and confused, and they looked at us as if we had just dived face-first into their personal lobster bisque. Now, understand that the end of September is unanimously believed to be the best time of year in Martha’s Vineyard. Mostly because the weather is perfect and there are no tourists, and they always say you should only eat shellfish in months that have an “r” in them. The restaurant was comparatively uncrowded, so I was told. But in a town like Martha’s Vineyard where the point is kind of to be a tourist, the social makeup in the autumn months is sort of questionable. Everyone is a local (so everyone knows everyone, and yes, they are talking about you right now), everyone works about four months out of the year, and everyone is an alcoholic. But at the same time they’re all decked out in Vineyard Vines (it is entirely possible that the phrase “all decked out” actually originated in Martha’s Vineyard but I could completely be making that up). Also there are a lot of weird gingerbread-looking houses and references to the movie Jaws. It’s pretty much what I imagine Disney World would be like if after all the patrons went home the workers took off their plush costumes and sat around drinking and shucking clams. You’d think it’d be cool, but it’s mostly just strange. It’s the kind of place where your neighbors will openly wonder why your blinds are shut all the time, and then mention it to someone who then mentions it to someone else who will then come to you legitimately concerned. You could try to “do you” in Martha’s Vineyard, but I bet it’d be pretty tough.
Despite that fact, I have to say that Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I totally get why people love it. I also get why so many political figures have gotten DUIs there, but we’ll get to that.
The next day I did some outdoorsy stuff like swim in a lake and jump off of Jaws Bridge, just so I could be one of those people on facebook who posts a picture of themselves jumping off a bridge where my body is all tiny and everyone’s like “oh cool!” but it doesn’t actually look like a big jump and is not super interesting for anyone who wasn’t there.
I still felt pretty cool. For those of you who don’t know, this is called Jaws Bridge because it, like many other parts of the island, appears in the movie Jaws multiple times. Despite having taken something like 42 credits worth of film classes in college I had never seen more than a few scenes in that movie until that weekend. It’s pretty funny; when you watch the movie after touring the island, you realize most of it was filmed just a few hundred feet off shore.
On Saturday we brought more shrimp cocktail and white wine on the 2-car “ferry” to a cook-out on Chappy (aka Chappaquiddick, a word whose google search yields a wiki page for something known as the “Chappaquiddick Incident” when Ted Kennedy basically drunk-drove his mistress off a bridge, left her for dead and ruined his political career. Saturday night was about to do something similar to my reputation). The cook out (or ‘barbecue’ as I refuse to call it) was made up mostly of well-to-do white people in their late 30s to mid 40s and their well-to-do children. Nestled nicely in the middle of that age gap I became the only person silently chugging wine and eating all the food. To this day I am so ashamed of how much food was left when the sun went down that night. I could have done better.
Later that evening was a fashion show for this thing called “Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week” which I have a hard time typing without feeling deeply embarrassed for that entire island. Thankfully we missed the show itself and made it just in time to drink 7 cocktails and stomp up and down the empty runway to Rihanna and 2010 disco house. I was doing high-kicks and splits and pirouettes in the corner, swing dancing with Nate and head banging with Kedrin. Family bonding at its finest, but you see how this could get you in trouble on an island of 15,000 people.
Downstairs at the bar, probably one of three places people actually hang out in Martha’s Vineyard, I met this sexy Serbian dude that could barely speak any English, so naturally we hit it off. But that’s when the bullshit started. I walked back to his house where he stayed with a bunch of other Serbians who appeared to be around my age. We were in the middle of casually doing our thing when he told me, in so many words, that he didn’t want to ~go down~ because I had some pubes. Sometimes I like to be really chill about it, dude. What gives? I told him to fuck off and didn’t say anything about him being uncircumcised because I am a lady.
When I got back to the bar my friends and family were gone, and I proceeded to dump my woes on the cute gay bartender. I asked him for a drink which I’m sure I incorrectly assumed was free, when some puny late-thirties guy from Boston started talking to me. I think I said a paragraph or two about my life before he told me I sounded full of myself. Drunk guys regularly get a false sense of intellectual superiority around me and try to Psych 101 me into confessing that deep down I’m really insecure and I’m just looking for a white knight. I told the guy I felt bad that he has such a lack of confidence that he has to project it onto strangers he meets in bars. Then I told him the reason I act like I’m better than him is because I am, threw my jacket over my drink and walked out of the bar. It wasn’t really my night.
Thanks to google maps we now know that when I left the bar I wasn’t more than ten minute walk from my brother’s house. But at the time my phone was dead and I had been drinking since 4 o clock and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I think an old man picked me up in his car, took me to his house and I drank his liquor and thought about robbing him before taking off running out his front door and into the woods. I know this sounds fake. It’s not. Martha’s Vineyard is just a super fake place. I spent what must have been the next two hours walking the perimeter of the island looking for familiar surroundings, diving into the bushes every time a truck drove by. I passed the hospital where my brother works on three different occasions. I think I peed in someone’s front yard.
When I got to the bridge for Vineyard Haven, I knew I’d gone too far. I was exhausted. I was fucked. My feet hurt because I was wearing these Keds-style shoes I’d gotten at H&M five years ago and had worn small holes in each sole. I remember laying down on the ground in a patch of dirt on the bank, looking up at the stars and sort of laugh-crying. It didn’t really matter that this was happening. It didn’t really count anyway because I’d be gone by Monday. I was just getting really hungry.
Just then an Aerostar van full of Brazilian teenagers pulled up and offered me a ride. I borrowed one of their cell phones and got directions from my mom (I seriously think it was only about 12:30 at this point). Everyone was yelling at me in Portugese and laughing. I thanked them in the most appropriate fashion I could muster and got out of the van, where I met Nathan’s friends in the kitchen and assisted them in eating something that I know was well outside my dietary restrictions. My mother was wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Kedrin was nowhere to be found. My brother was screaming at everyone from his bed to shut the fuck up, and that we were adults, and that his friends should fucking leave so he could get some sleep. One of them later puked in my mother’s Brooks Brothers flats. It was pretty hilarious.
The next morning Kedrin was still missing and her phone was dead. Should we call the police? “It hasn’t been 24 hours,” Nathan said, “Let’s go to the beach.” This is the kind of guy he is. Efficient, impatient, and mostly right. We went up-island where all the property is owned by the whole of Jewish Hollywood and I got THE best lobster roll I’ve ever had in my life, saw some seriously eroding dunes and drank tons of beer. Nate and I shared stories about our magnetic attraction to dysfunctional men and he told me his secrets on how to become a self-made world-traveling property owner, which I will never reveal to anyone. That afternoon Kedrin took a cab back to the house and slept until her flight back to North Carolina. I never found out what the hell happened to her, but at least she didn’t get Chappaquiddicked.
That night I made myself a vodka cranberry and decided to finally watch Jaws for the first time.
I fell asleep before the end.