Wilson Hernandez

(Jazlyn Flores)

I have shattered my ankle three times in the past 16 years in the same location: Tanner Park, my second home growing up as a child. It is a playful park along the shore of the beach in the city of Copiague, New York. It’s only a 10-minute drive from my house, yet I always found myself taking 30-minute walks there to find some peace with myself. With the vast properties including a Beach Hut, Water Park, Pier, concerts and athletic fields, I always take in the moments I spend there.

When you first walk into the park you are usually hit with the sound of laughing children, screaming, crying or just pure happiness, as there’s always something going on. The day I broke my ankle for the second time, I’m able to recall my aunt singing the song, “Are You Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys, which is usual playing at 7:30 pm when the bands are about to get started. Even though this park was plain and ordinary to others, for me it was beyond extraordinary with the atmosphere that surrounded me. This feeling gave me serotonin, a natural feeling of calm and being unbothered.

I could hear my mom repeating the same sentence over and over: “Don’t run too fast or you’ll get hurt.” She was always a very cautious person and never liked the sound of danger. Yet, I never listened. I would glide through the boardwalk with my rollerblades, feeling the warm summer breeze. I would slide my hands on the cold rusty metal railing, only for my hands to afterwards smell metallic and salt. Yet all of this helped me leave all my worries in the past. Being able to stand at the end of the boardwalk and look upon the immense ocean in front of me, helped me appreciate nature and its beautiful creation.

After hurricane Sandy struck Long Island, I was devastated with the mess it left behind at my favorite place. Though walking through the tall grass on the opposite side of the beach, I knew everything was going to be alright when I noticed a lonely standing tree that looked like it hadn’t been touched. It was a tall beach Pine tree. I always enjoyed watching it bloom from April to May; it was an evenly branched tree with yellow green needles, probably three to a bundle. The lower branches would very so often gracefully lower down and touch the ground. The cones that would fall off it were hard and egged shaped, and shorter than the needles and was prickly buff brown. It was at this very tree where my incident occurred.

It was a couple of months since it had reopened, and I was excited to once again get struck with the salty, misty water in my mouth. I had just finished eating my crispy, hot chicken tenders with the immaculate tasting mayonnaise packets it came with and ran over to the tree. Being young, I always thought of my spirit animal as the monkey, or even the sloth because they just amused me as a child. I associated with monkeys because I was always hanging off the monkey bars or literally anything I could climb onto. Naturally, I decided to climb this tree. I was playing tag with my younger brother and decided to climb to the top where he wouldn’t be able to reach me. The feelings of tiny blades that wouldn’t make you bleed crossing my palms excited me. Since the tree was a main focus point of the land, my mom could see me from afar and yelled at me to get down. I tried to, though one of the branches didn’t support my weight and I fell. When I landed on the grass it was like I fell on a million sharp broken shells from the beach, since all my weight landed on my foot. I don’t recall it hurting since I was more entertained with the pink afternoon sunset though.

Many, many doctor appointments later, I was healed completely, and back to this park I went. I didn’t mind the vast amount of older people’s nasty smell of cigarettes, or the loud guitars playing in my ears. All I wanted was a sense of peace and tranquility, even after three incidents of breaking my ankle. Although I moved recently, I still tend to go there every so often, even though there are other places that fill me up with joy. Yet none of those places can compare to Tanner Park.