A house in East Hampton, an apartment in the city, a Golden Retriever, a SUV and a boyfriend who just dumped me after thirteen years so he could find himself with his Latino personal trainer. Yes, the winter had not been a pretty one and I spent it in tears, raging anger, then therapy, and finally a disastrous rebound relationship. So now it was summer and I needed a complete change of scenery. Through the winter soul searching I joined a volunteer program with Momentum Aids where I worked in a food pantry in the South Bronx one Saturday a month. While filling plastic bags with canned goods and fresh vegetables (may as well channel that anger into some good) I met a couple of guys who had a share available in their house in Fire Island Pines. Being an ex-Hamptonite (he got the house in the divorce) the entire share experience was foreign to me. I had not shared bedrooms and bathrooms since my college fraternity days and although the sexual fantasies that conjured were hot, I had another voice in my head telling me this may not bode well in my late 30’s with an unruly Golden Retriever (I got the kids). However, after two Kettle One martinis and a virtual tour on the house website I not only understood what a “quarter share” was, but also understood the check I was now writing included unlimited alcohol and a clothing optional hot tub. The concept of Low Tea and High Tea still eluded me though. So, on a cool night in mid May I found myself on the Sayville ferry juggling an anxious Golden Retriever (we both needed a Xanax for this) three bags ( I had wardrobe worries) and a bouquet of disheveled flowers (a good first impression is imperative). Arriving in the Pines on a Friday night is akin to arriving in New York on one of the great ocean liners during the 1950s with throngs of people waiting to welcome you home from a grand tour of Europe with champagne, flowers and great hugs. However, the entire scene filled me with anxiety- as I realized I knew no one on the Island and quite possibly would be branded a loser as I dragged my luggage and dog through the crowd with a fixed smile on my face. Imagine my great surprise when I saw my “house mother” standing on the bench in the crowd brandishing a cocktail shaker and glasses and waving in my direction. That was five years ago and it was that feeling of camaraderie and of belonging to a greater community that shares and celebrates being gay that has made Cherry Grove and The Pines the unique place they are and has kept me coming back every year! Oh, and now there is a Middle Tea to grasp as well!