Plymouth, Massachusetts is nicknamed America’s hometown, but it’s not mine. If you look up Plymouth on Google Maps, you’ll see a coastal town on the South Shore of Boston, sheltered by Cape Cod Bay. Zoom in closer and you’ll find the Bourne and the Sagamore bridges, which connect Plymouth to the town of Bourne and a town called Sandwich on the shoulder of Massachusetts, above the flexing arm of Cape Cod. The pilgrims likely would have considered the tip of Cape Cod the start of the landmass, since they landed first in Provincetown on their journey from the southern coast of England. Despite this, Plymouth tries its best to make sure it’s known for the pilgrims.
When driving through Plymouth, you can roll down your car windows and smell salty air that tastes like the ocean. It’s one of those towns with New England charm: low stone walls dotting the edges of the woods, sidewalks leading to the center of town, and a main street with a post office, theatre, restaurants, and antique shops. Next to the antique shop, an upscale consignment store has opened its doors, selling gently used Ralph Lauren dresses and silk scarves to twenty-somethings who love to dress in vintage outfits from the back of their grandmothers’ closets.
By the beach in the heart of Plymouth, there’s a mausoleum-like structure with stone pillars supporting a flat roof. Not until you walk into the open tomb and peer down at the sand will you realize that this isn’t a burial site at all. It’s the site of a rock with the year 1620 engraved on it. This is Plymouth Rock.
Down the road, past the seaside houses with wraparound porches and pebbled driveways, there are communities of Toll Brothers houses where each house is a slight variation of the neighboring one. In front of the houses, you’ll find flower beds full of blue and purple hydrangeas, manicured lawns, and sturdy Adirondack chairs in the yard. In the community clubhouse down the road, a group of happily retired men and women play cards at plastic craft tables while grandchildren swim in the pool at the other end of the L-shaped one-story building. The clubhouse also houses the mailroom, a ballroom, a fitness center, and a series of wooden bookshelves that make up the lending library. Residents come and go throughout the day to exercise, to socialize, and to relax.