by George Cork Maul
Out here on the East End of Long Island, the future is not yet obvious.
I mean, certain things are certain. There will be more traffic, the wineries and breweries will sell more alcohol, the food in the restaurants will go up in price, and retired people will always worry about their real estate taxes. Farmland will turn into houses, but thanks to the Community Preservation Fund, all of the farmland won’t turn into houses. It’s hard to imagine that the main roads won’t need to be widened, but maybe self-driving cars will arrive before Sunrise Hwy and Route 25 come to a complete halt.
The bay will still be beautiful. Maybe some fish will come back, maybe they won’t. I guess that depends on if we figure out how to get rid of our waste without leaching the nitrogen into the estuary system that surrounds us.
There might be one or two more bodies buried in a basement somewhere but generally that’s not going to be a big item. Maybe we will realize some things as people. But that’s a very slow process. Maybe we will realize that money doesn’t make you happy. That’s not to say that you don’t need some money for food and taxes and hot water and Aldo’s coffee. But there is a noticeable trend toward people with a lot of money who are just plain miserable SOBs who keep coming out here to make other people miserable by offering them money.
Businesses run from home will continue to increase because of the internet. There will be fewer bank branches. Vanity businesses run by people who earned too much money in a previous career doing something they hated will bring more gift shops, antique stores, knitting guilds and library programs, which will run on forever.
Technology will continue to invade our lives for the foreseeable future and make us more and more “comfortable” until we give the tech companies every bit of information we ever knew, emailed, googled, snapped a picture of with our selfie sticks or tweeted to the world.
Eventually, all our info will become meaningless because all of our trends will have been sucked out of us and we will just be beachcombing drunks in search of religious freedom, which is what the East End started out as way back in the time when the indigenous people we called “The Indians” were here. Oh by the way…there are surely more Indian graveyards to be discovered and slave graveyards too, where there are more bodies to dig up but most of those aren’t in basements or under basements, but there might be some in farm fields. We will discover them when the farm fields turn into houses with basements.
I can make one prediction with certainty. Helicopters will still fly overhead and a landing pad will be grandfathered in on Robins Island. But maybe in the future Tesla will make electric helicopters that don’t make any noise so we won’t be able to complain about that… Oh did I mention, in the future people will still complain? Our biggest complaint will still be dog poop.
In the future the weather will continue to surprise us and give us something to talk about at the Post Office. The Post Office will be making lots of money on Amazon Sunday deliveries.
Everything simple will be more expensive. We will pay for things that used to be free. Water used to be free, now we buy it in plastic bottles. By the same trend, we will pay for air, handsoap and toilet paper in public places, left hand turns, wifi, hugs, advice, daylight, allergens, nods and smiles. It will be against the law to remove beach glass and interesting stones from beaches. Facebook will still be free but nobody will be looking at it except the Russians. Regular seashells will probably still be free but we will get them from the dumpster behind the fish market. The price of freedom will continue to rise. Sand will be free but sitting on it will not be free, especially in the Middle East.
Things will go faster and people will live longer so there will be more road rage, except in self driving cars, which will be everywhere except in the parking lots which will be filled with back hoes or classic car rallies. Clothing will be all made out of recycled garbage. Grass will grow and leaf blowers will blow. All of the farms will be surrounded by high, concentration camp-style deer fencing and all of the deer will be living on the roads in hutches made of debris collected by the highway department during the spring cleanup.
So what aren’t we sure about?
We aren’t sure about the future of the town planning departments. One would think the planning departments of the towns that make up the End End would know something about the future. They are supposed to be planning for it. When I talk to the planning department where I live I’m not sure they have any clue about the future. Planning staff members seem to mumble to themselves at town work sessions while doodling on their notepads. It’s not very reassuring.
The future is not futuristic. That’s because, out here on the East End, we move toward the future by walking backwards into it. Looking at the bucolic beauty that used to be the East End as it disappears beneath our very feet. A kind of reflection of the past looking at the future.
If you don’t believe me, ride into Port Jefferson on a Friday night and try to find a parking space in the parking lot that is the largest feature in the downtown viewscape of the harbor. One of the biggest problems we have out here is that the people who live here don’t seem to realize that there is an onslaught of people arriving here. We live in a beautiful place and people are arriving so quickly that they will soon obliterate most of what is beautiful, long before we can stop it. Of course everybody who doesn’t want more people to arrive has only lived out here long enough to learn to call Riverhead “Up West.”
People will watch the news and be afraid and angry. There will still be opioids. The liquor stores will continue to do great business. Some guys will hide guns in their houses “just in case.” Non-profits will still have overpriced fundraisers.
But let me introduce a new category: Things that we hope will be true in the future.
In the future I hope we will stop referring to each other as “Us” and “Them” and realize that We are Them. I also hope that there will be a newspaper called the East End Beacon that you can buy in paper form at the 7-Eleven to read while you drink your morning coffee. I hope TV screens don’t get any bigger! I hope people return to listening to music and realize that it is a language instead of something to hide behind while they pretend to be having conversations with members of other sexes. I hope the “Live Music“ that happens in vineyard tasting rooms will actually be alive.
I could go on and on about the future for a long time. But when all is said and done, I think I can sum it up by saying just one thing. Our children will be our only real hope. And from what I’ve seen, that’s the way it should be.