It has been 365 days since Superstorm Sandy came ashore along the Eastern Seaboard, devastating the Jersey Shore. Homes, roads, boardwalks, and businesses were decimated, if not washed away entirely. Nik and I were at home in Boston watching 24-hour news 24-hours a day, texting our family in Mantoloking, Bay Head, and Point Pleasant until their power went out, phones died, and we waited. We sent updates as best we could to my parents living overseas in Germany, feeling even more helpless and disconnected than we did. We prayed.
My family was incredibly lucky, though so many were not. My cousin’s grandmother’s home, a three-story brick and wood house in which we played during childhood summers, washed away without a trace, a newly formed inlet rushing through the property and down the road, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Barnegat Bay. Thankfully, no one had been inside. Boats and cars and houses floated from their properties to seemingly impossible places up the road or across town, boats standing upright on putting greens at the golf course or piled up on train tracks a half mile from the water.
Days after the storm, Nik took the car to the grocery store, stocking it with hundreds of bottles of water, batteries, candles, and food. He filled gasoline containers and we drove cautiously, windows open, from New England to the shore in pre-dawn hours to accommodate the curfew, arriving as the sun rose. We helped out at a food and clothing drive my cousin organized, did some demo in family friends’ homes, and helped move displaced families into the senior home my family owns. Most importantly, we spent time together. The togetherness was the most comforting thing of all, when so many other things were upside down.
It occurred to me this morning that this week marks the one year anniversary of my yoga practice, too. When the storm hit I was very new, timid, and wary of my practice, tucking myself into the back corners of the room where I good get a good look at everyone around me in case I didn’t understand the Sanskrit instructions. On the Thursday night after the storm, frazzled and emotionally spent, I rushed to Exhale for a 6 PM vinyasa class with Amy Leydon (my favorite). The room was jammed, with the only open space front and center. I laid down my mat, tuning out everyone around me and tuning in, maybe for the first time, to myself, with a real, deliberate intention. I quietly cried, surrounded by the reverberating om of the other yogis. What I thought about focus, meditation, spirituality, and intentions changed that day.
One year ago I learned that no matter where you are, you can always go home.Physically and spiritually. Through the front door, in an embrace, or between the four corners of a mat. With your heart, in your mind, or on your feet. 365 days later, I think in many ways it was a super-storm that helped me find calm and discover a whole new way to return to center.
All photos by my aunt J. and Nik