When you are born, and live a few blocks from the ocean, the beach has a strong influence on your life. You spend your childhood digging, wadding, and splashing. You meet your friends, you tan, you date, you study, and you dream, at the beach. Sand is everywhere, on your skin, in your clothes and hair. Growing up at the beach is unique. Everyone comes to visit you. Everyone including hurricanes, snow storms and nor'easters. They are a different animals here.
It was the early days of a new school term. It was raining. In those days you wore plastic rain hats with brims that tie under your chin. I went to school walking the few blocks from my apartment building. The school was new and lovely. I don't remember who I walked with, but it was a large complex and there were many children going to school.
I was in the 4th grade. I remember the teacher being tall and strict. I spent the whole day looking out of the window. We did a class lesson about storms. There was heavy rain and howling winds and the sky was a night sky. At 3 the teacher dismissed the class. There was my mother standing in front of the building with an umbrella and rain hat. This was unusual. My mother had driven the few blocks to pick me up. My mother never drove in bad weather. She said there was a hurricane coming, and we needed to be home.
At home, I began my watch, from my bedroom window. They would name the hurricane Donna. We lived on the third floor which presented a wonderful view of the bay on the left and the ocean on the right. I loved all weather. I have always and will always be humbled and awed by the power of nature. The weather channel and I are great friends.
It rained and howled, and the sky was black. The bay rose and I watched it come across the grass. The ocean dominated the boardwalk, and drive and in Donna's fury the Atlantic ocean met the Jamaica bay.
I watched people in small boats paddling down the street. The cars, long before computers, sat in feet of water, only to dry out and be used again. There was no transportation, no school... Just the glory and destruction that is nature. I sat at the window and I watched. I was nine years old and I never forgot Donna. Sitting by the window, watching moments of my life, living by the water.