A privileged visitor


To the Editor:

While reading Morgan Baker’s essay in the September 1, 2011, edition of the Times [Aug. 31, “Re-entry isn’t easy, although another Vineyard summer will come”], I thought of what my mother, a plain spoken “Swamp Yankee” from southeastern Connecticut, used to say: “It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it.”

I think Ms. Baker intended to say how much she’ll miss the Vineyard until she returns again next summer; that she is grateful for the long, lazy expanse of days to take her dogs to the beach, live each day as it comes, and enjoy the simple beauty that makes this a rare and magical place. What I read, however, were the petulant complaints of a person who lacks any sense of gratitude or an appreciation for cruel irony.

How many people in this world get to spend six or even 10 (10!) whole weeks on a gorgeous Island — for every single year of their lives?! How many of us have been lucky enough to be born into a family affluent enough to maintain a second residence here and be invited to stay for the entire summer? Criminy!

Many of us feel enormously grateful to spend just one week here — in the rain, no less — because we have saved our money and managed our meager vacation time with the hope that we will be rejuvenated by some precious time away from our routine lives at home. “Re-entry” is no problem for us because we haven’t had the unbelievable privilege of enjoying week upon glorious week of sunsets, ice cream, and afternoons at the beach to forget the “real” life that awaits us upon our return home.

Am I jealous? You bet. I guess I would have hoped for an essay that expressed a sense of humility and gratitude at the privilege of being able to spend any amount of time on vacation — anywhere. With so many in this country out of work, struggling to make a living, or having just enough resources to afford a “staycation,” I would have hoped to read about how lucky we are to know the enormous beauty and priceless opportunities for physical and spiritual renewal in this very special place.

David O’Neil