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Daphne Merkin

A Summer Rental of One’s Own

The New York Times | July 7, 2010. 


THIS spring, in ripe midlife, after years of thinking and talking about it, I finally rented a summer house of my own. This may not sound like a major feat to those who own weekend getaways in the Hamptons or Connecticut or have been renting for years. But to someone like me, who habitually shies away from taking charge in the hope that someone better equipped will do so instead, it rates as a real achievement, a kind of upper-middle-class rite of passage that I was not ready for until now.


Among other things, it represents a final goodbye to the summer house of my youth, which stood ready for me to arrive with a bathing suit and books, and demanded nothing more of me than that I put my dishes in the dishwasher. This house, in the tiny enclave of Atlantic Beach on Long Island, an hour out of New York City, remained in my family until six or seven years ago. When I think of it, I think of the screen door slamming, of hectic barbecues, of the gritty feel of sand being washed off in long, hot showers.


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