A Tale of Two Islands


When I was a kid one of my favorite pastimes was playing with ants. (Yes, I was that little girl). As an amateur insect anthropologist I conducted a number of social experiments with my tiny backyard neighbors. I did this – not in order to drew some sort of conclusion about human nature based on ant behavior – but just because I lived in a small town, was bored and had trouble making friends, which may not surprise you.

One of my favorite experiments involved pouring water all around an anthill to form a miniature mote and then observing how the panic stricken ants dealt with the situation. (The ants actually fared quite well. The one thing I learned was that ants can swim. None were harmed, except perhaps psychologically)

Little did I imagine that one day I would be living in a virtual water-surrounded anthill myself. Now, lest you worry that this is going to turn into a treatise comparing the industrious, adaptable, community-minded ant species to the population of Martha’s Vineyard, fear not. I’m not going there. I wouldn’t. And I hope that no one else would. I hate that kind of thing.

Furthermore, there is no conclusion to be drawn. The ants would hardly have chosen to build their anthill in the middle of a puddle. Islanders opt to live an Island. Why? It makes no sense. Why would anyone chose to live in a place where you have to take a boat to buy underwear? Where the population is at the mercy of a demi-God named the Steamship Authority whose laws appear to be totally arbitrary. (which, by the way has been proven – through lab rat experiments – to be the best way to induce psychoses)

Why is it then that we don’t hear stories every year of some claustrophobic individual making a desperate, panicky circumnavigation of the Island only to find that, like my insect experiment subjects, they’re trapped?

I have no answer to these questions. That’s why I recently moved back to New York City. However, I have to confess, there are things that I miss. Not so much the sense of community, the serenity, the natural beauty, and so on and so on. More specific things. Little things. Things that others might consider inconveniences like trash stickers and PO boxes. So I’ve compiled a list comparing the advantages that the two Islands – Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard – have to offer. You decide.


NY – The Big Apple
MV – The Rock

NY – The stock trading capital of the world
MV – The nation’s leader in scratch tickets sold per capita

MY – A range of ethnic food options that rivals any place on earth
MV – 20 plus restaurant menu items involving clams

NY – Hipsters
MV – Hippies

MY – 1,000s of boutiques and designer showrooms that makethe city the nation’s style leader
MV – One tee shirt shop per every other type of retail establishment

NY – The spectacle that is Times Square
MV – Hanging out on the porch at Alley’s

NY – Taking in dramatic views of skyscrapers, bridges and the Statue of Liberty while crossing New York Bay on the Staten Island ferry. Travel time 25 mins. Price – free
MV – The Chappy ferry Travel time – 2 mins. Price – $4 (for some perspective $2 per minute would equal $50 for a 25 minute ride)

NY – The Bronx zoo
MV – A population of skunks that exceeds the year round human population

NY – King Kong
MV – Jaws

NY – The “If I can make it there…” potential for worldwide fame
MV – The Court Report

NY – Some of the world’s most desirable tickets to Broadway shows, concerts and sporting events
MV- The satisfaction of scoring the last Boston Cream after waiting online at Backdoor Donuts for over an hour

NY – Some of the most interesting, eccentric characters to be found anywhere in the world
MV – Some of the most interesting, eccentric characters to be found anywhere in the world

So despite the fact that the most expensive city in the U.S. has got nothing on the Vineyard’s cost of living (and by the way, Brooklyn is the second most expensive city and Queens is number 6, according to DailyFinance.com) Manhattanites still flock to the Island every summer. And, as any year rounder knows, all those cosmopolitans yearn to settle here permanently. Why else would they be constantly pestering the locals with the age old question, “What’s it like here in the winter?” Well the next time someone asks, while trying to figure out if they can justify the price tag on their Vineyard dream home, assure them that, while they may be giving up the opera, the symphony, Broadway, 24 hour food options, the Knicks and the Nets, there is some trade off.
“What do you do here in the winter?” “Karaoke!”
Of course.

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