Youth hostel is the little red roofed building.

I might be the only person who has ever showed up to the Truro youth hostel wearing a hot pink party dress. Yes, I am factoring in its close proximity to Provincetown. The women behind the desk, originally from North Carolina, here for the two months the hostel is open, tried to figure out exactly who I thought I was.

I’d come down to Provincetown for the Provincetown Arts magazine publishing party, as I have an essay in this year’s issue called “You Belong Here” about lawlessness, pirates, and puritans. (You can order the magazine online here or buy it at fine establishments up and down Cape Cod.) It was writing that essay that got me thinking about many of the themes that would end up in A Home at Last.

With the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims approaching in 2020, people in Provincetown are amping up and hoping to win back some of the spotlight from Plymouth. They spent only five weeks in Provincetown and yet continue to shape the way we think about–and sell–the place today.

IMG_8001 (1)

Anyway, back to the youth hostel. I had not stayed in a hostel since I was in 8th grade when the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School put us up in a hostel in Washington, DC. It was across the street from a crumbling warehouse and our teachers thought it would be funny to pose the class in front of the decaying building to show our parents where we stayed. Those pictures were archived on the school’s website for more than a decade, but of course I can’t find them to show you now.

I don’t have much experience with youth hostels, but I do have a lot of experience with dorms, having lived in them for eight years between boarding school and college.

This hostel had once been a Coast Guard station, and is about 1.5 miles from Jams (which I used to think was expensive, but after almost five years of living on Nantucket, it seems downright reasonable!). It’s nestled right near Ballston Beach, right on the backshore.


I have to apologize right now to the town of Truro. Growing up in Provincetown, Truro was always the boring town. I endured Truro, because I had to drive through it to get anywhere else. Truro seemed to stretch on forever, and was always the last hurdle to get through before making it back home to Provincetown. There was nothing to do in Truro except go to the swap shack, which was always a thrill as I never knew when we might get yelled at by a dump attendant for not having the right sticker.

Truro was so boring, so quiet, so quintessentially in the middle of nowhere it was even where they sent Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black II to live out a quiet existence as a postal worker. Nothing ever happened in Truro. Until, of course, something did.

So forgive me for not having any real positive associations with Truro beyond Beach Point, where the Days Cottages are and where Tony Bourdain lived for a summer.

Until now, that is. I admit it: Truro is exceptional. Maybe I’ve just gotten old enough to appreciate the quiet. To love a place where there is “nothing” to do except walk and swim and write.


Old cranberry bog house.

I walked along the backshore, ran through the old cranberry bogs, up the high dunes, down the rambling roads to “town.” And behind every corner I kept thinking I might catch Joel Meyerowitz with his 8×10 camera, the light was so impossibly perfect.

And if you need a place to wear a hot pink party dress, Provincetown is just a couple miles on down the road.