Resilience; the ability to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens, to recover from or adjust easily to change. I have always believed that being resilient was the key to making it through life. I realize this Long Island girl has depended a great deal on her East End surroundings to stay resilient. It also occurs to me the East End beaches that have been ever present in my most memorable days are also resilient. Teacher and student have suffered lose, damage, and have always arisen from the dark. We have both emerged from the ashes, often reconfigured but fresh and new like the sea glass that shimmers in the sunlight.
I have grown up on the beach, in and around the waters of the East End. Braving the waves and learning to swim the current in dad’s shadow, family barbeques, sand castles, and teenage awkwardness. Engagement celebration in Amagansett, vacations in Montauk and the best glass of champagne coupled with a brilliant sunset in Sag Harbor. For those of us fortunate to have grown up here, salt water flows through our veins. Through good times and bad, it has held steady.
I have sought out the solitude of the sand in times of grief. My tears ebbing and flowing like the tide. Staring out into the vastness of the sea for answers, sometimes finding them, sometimes not. There is always belief that somehow the tide absorbs what you give it. It takes our thoughts out beyond the horizon depositing them into the abyss. There is the feeling that it knows you and why you came. As I walk along the shores of Cupsogue in the cold, I pass solitary strollers and always wonder why they are there. Our shores are the one place that people will go to alone because once you are there the water greets you like an old friend. I have also grieved for it. Nor ‘easters, hurricane Gloria and Sandy have changed our shores. Many of us pay them a visit as we would an infirmed neighbor. How are you today? What can we do to help?
I have fallen in love on the beach. Wrapped up tight with my love under starry skies. Our bodies molded into the sand beneath us. Hostage to the soothing rhythm of the waves, devoid of thought. Water hitting the shore is hypnotic. It is its own music. It can be what you want to hear. There is no conversation needed at the shore. Voids are filled with the warming sun, moonlight reflections and the rippling and surging of whitecaps. It is enough just to be present. It really can be a litmus test for relationships. Being able to sit with another and appreciate the beauty is paradise. Does this person respect and admire my long time companion? Do they understand the sanctity of what lies in front of them? Do they have beach stories to share? Are they humble in the presence of the sea?
As I grow older I hope there are many more memories to make on the East End. There are dreams of sharing how I grew up with the next generation of family to come. To them, it will all be fresh and pristine and amazing. I look forward to further discoveries and the comfort they provide. I know all too well, that there will also be change ahead. There will be lose for us both and we will come together, like we always have, to rebuild and reconnect. The mere passage of time renders change. We are aging and more fragile but both remain ever so resilient.