Bruised, But Not Broken

When I think about bruises, the first image that comes to mind are bluish/purplish marks on the skin or brown, mushy areas on fruits or vegetables.  I really have never consider using the word “bruised” to describe any other context.  However, my visit to Long Beach a few weeks ago illuminated my perception of bruises. I now understand that bruises can be a temporary wound or injury that can affect not just an individual, or a fruit for that matter, but an entire community.

I decided to visit Long Beach because I wanted to see Long Beach’s current state, not just through pictures, and listen to personal experiences, rather than just reading them through Facebook posts on the “Long Beach, NY Hurricane Information” page.  Because I have been researching Hurricane Sandy and Long Beach victims, I felt that a visit to Long Beach would enhance my understanding of what really occurred.

As my mom and I drove to Long Beach, we were welcomed and enthralled by a sign outside of the Havana Café. Without much notice, I asked my mom if we could pull over to get a better look at this sign.  Image

My eyes are usually attracted most to vibrant colors and bold patterns and designs, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop staring. However, this sign served as an exception.  In a hand-painted red and green font, the sign read “Welcome to the city of Long Beach: BRUISED BUT NOT BROKEN.” While the sign was not particularly aesthetically pleasing, its message resonated with my that day and continues to do so.

During my visit, I met with one of my dad’s close colleagues who has a house in Long Beach.  Even though he was not in Long Beach when Hurricane Sandy hit, he had many stories to share with me and provided insight into his as well as his neighbors’ recovery processes. He also introduced me to some of his friends and neighbors to increase my awareness of the spectrum of devastation in Long Beach. When I spoke with one of his friends who was raised and currently lives in Long Beach, I realized the impact that showing an interest and engaging in dialogue has on healing.  I am still in awe of the determination, optimism and community-oriented attitudes that these individuals possess.

I could not have said it better myself. “Bruised, but not broken” really epitomizes the emotional and physical condition in Long Beach. I started to wonder how long it takes for bruises to heal. Can bruises ever really disappear? However, I then realized that it is not productive to conceptualize bruises to be contingent upon a duration of time.  Even when bruises are no longer visible, people always seem to remember the worst ones. Hurricane Sandy may have bruised the city of Long Beach and its residents, but it has certainly not broken them or prevented them from uniting and recovering.

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One comment

  1. This is a really interesting point, how do you think this relates to issues of disaster and memory? What do we remember, how do we heal from these bruises?

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monica byrne

writer . playwright . artist . activist . traveler

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