Before Katerina and I moved to Merrick, we lived in Long Beach for nine years, two in a studio beside the boardwalk and seven in an apartment building off Park Avenue, just north of the beach. Nearly every night, weather permitting, we walked the boardwalk from end to end after work.
We loved the fiery red sunsets that lit up the sky. Mostly, we planned for the future, for the time when we would have a house and children. On weekends, we caught a movie or went out to dinner at one of Park Avenue’s numerous eateries.
We’ve lived in Merrick for a little more than 10 years, on a quiet street three blocks from a canal that leads to Merrick Bay. It’s the place where our children have grown up, where they learned to play soccer and ride bikes.
Two years ago, I started running after a 10-year hiatus. Most often, I run at the Town of Hempstead’s Norman J. Levy Preserve, a mile west of my home. The park is a tree-covered former landfill north of Merrick Bay. On its south end is an enormous fishing pier that juts into the bay.
Many days, weather permitting, I run to the end of the pier after I drop my son off at school, and I stop and look around, taking in the view. It was a lesson that I learned from my college cross-country coach, Marty Kentner –– to always look around and appreciate the scenery. Life passes too quickly. Live for the moment.
And so, on each run, I collect a moment in my mind. I stand on the pier for a minute or two, watching ripples radiating across the water, or cormorants steaming along, their black, streamlined bodies submerged beneath the water, their heads sticking out like periscopes. Or I look farther out, to the Spartina grass mudflats to the south, with the morning sun casting an orange glow over the wetlands. As I stand on the pier, alone, I feel so fortunate to be alive, peering out onto this place of sublime beauty.
Hurricane Sandy seemed to attack out of nowhere, bringing chaos where there was order. The worst of the storm lasted six hours, bringing an entire island to its knees, and then it was over.
After the storm, Long Islanders stood in stunned disbelief. What in the world just happened? we wondered.