When I was growing up we moved. I was born in New York, moved to Florida at 2 months and lived there until I was 6, moved to Albany, lived there 6 months, moved to Queens, lived there until I was in 8th grade, moved to Westchester, lived there throughout high school, moved back upstate for college and grad school, then moved here. As scary as it is, I have lived in Long Island nearly as long as any place I have ever called home. Home was a word I had trouble identifying with- I had a positive connotation with the word and have associated it with family, but when I closed my eyes, I saw people not a place. That is a beautiful thing, I am thankful I have people that are my home, but I often longed for a place that I could call my own.
Recently I wrote about my new found affinity for all things Lawng-I-Land– maybe not all things, but this is now the place that I view as home, and the place I intend on growing old in. It was nearly one year ago when my home, my work community, John’s hometown, were all hit with tragedy, like many places in the surrounding area.
This is not a post about Hurricane, Superstorm, whatever you want to call it, Sandy. This is a story about rebuilding.
If you have been paying any attention to my blog you may realize that I run frequently, and when I run, I frequent the boardwalk. What I have not mentioned about this boardwalk is that it is not whole. The boardwalk that I run on was destroyed by the flooding and surges of Sandy, the bones of our beloved boardwalk were picked clean by those who looked to maintain some connection with a place they held close to their hearts, and whatever was left was then demolished in order to rebuild.
Some of my fondest memories were created on that boardwalk. When John and I met we were friends in similar places in our lives. We would go “running” together on the boardwalk. I say “running” because I couldn’t make it one block without stopping to catch my breath and walk. He would try to motivate me, but we spent most of our days together talking and falling in love. It was on this boardwalk that I would re-learn how to ride my first bike in fifteen years (p.s.- riding a bike is not like riding a bike).
When the boardwalk was gone we all waiting eagerly for it’s return. We watched as other areas rebuilt quickly, and we were not always the most patient, but it was only because we loved that damn thing!
Throughout the summer we waited for news and we watched the beginning phases of something so essential to our city by the sea. It was during this process that I began to rebuild myself as well. I took this picture from a rooftop yoga class over the summer. I recall looking over the balcony and feeling a sense of pride and joy.
We were coming back.
When the news arrived that a section of the boardwalk would be open to the public in August something clicked inside of me. It was that week that I decided I needed to run. Maybe I needed that boardwalk to open. It signified something special- It was beautiful, new, not complete, but it was stronger than it was before.
The first section was only .8 miles each way, making my initial runs just under two miles. Welcome back.
When the second section opened I was ready to push myself, it was now 2.5 round trip.
This past week it was expanded again. I was able to push myself more than 3 miles round trip.
Our boardwalk is not complete, but with every week that it has expanded I have allowed myself to push my own boundaries. This boardwalk has old memories, and it has become a place of new and growing memories. Our city is not entirely rebuilt, but as I said, each day we get stronger. We come together as a community, and we rebuild better and stronger versions of who we were one year ago.