It was very windy and not particularly warm, but I spent Sunday in Sea Cliff on the beach anyway. I thought I knew all the North Shore towns of Long Island - Cold Spring Harbor, Bayville, Huntington, Manhasset - but I had never been to Sea Cliff. Standing on the beach in that quaint little village, I was reminded of Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Californian coast. Both towns wind around cliffs that lead to the sea, and both are dotted with well-kept Victorian homes, kitsch shops, and restaurants that only the locals know. They are towns that have seen their prime, but there is something calming about walking around the nearly empty streets with their perfectly trimmed hedges, and down to the beach where people mill about unpretentiously.
Perhaps it's because I'm in the midst of a renewed Gatsby obsession, but the neighborhoods surrounding Sea Cliff reminded me of the famed East Egg. The old world elegance seeped out from behind the tall gates protecting tasteful mansions, and there was a feeling of opulence in the air that manifested itself without the all-too-common ostentatious shows of new wealth. Of course, Fitzgerald based the fictional cities of East Egg and West Egg on Sands Point and Kings Point, just a bay away from Sea Cliff, but one forgets that Long Island is more than what the nouveau rich have made of it. Understated glamour still exists on the North Shore. You just have to look closely.