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The Cherry Grove State-of-Mind, Part 2…

Home Sweet Home

Since Hurricane Irene visited New York…

I am relieved to report that Cherry Grove is still there, but the phone lines are bad and my cousins are busy moving back to Manhattan. I have no other details.

As I was saying…

It’s hard to explain how I felt when I first visited Cherry Grove 15 years ago.

Then I found this charming graphic by Fire Island resident and artist Susan Ann Thornton titled “Fire Island Boardwalk.”

It’s from her series of children’s books called Adventures of Baby Cat in Cherry Grove and it captures my perception of the ethos and spirit of this heavenly little summer place.  It’s magic transformed me back then, temporarily, and it did, again, a few weeks ago.

As conflicted I am right now about my body and my eating, in Cherry Grove, I found myself wandering about in shorts and halter tops and engaging easily with lots of people, especially those with dogs.

My psychiatric ‘history’ doesn’t exist. Nobody’s does. People let each other “be” and this total acceptance and inclusivity is utterly liberating.

It’s blissfully low key and informal…

There’s a disarming innocence about the place. Everyone dresses as they please. There’s lots of laughter in the cafes and on the boardwalks. Time seems to stand still there.

No one cares about your possessions, where you’re from, your body shape, social status, age, occupation, your wealth or lack of it.

In 1996, Cherry Grove made an indelible mark on my inner psyche. A profound and palpable sense memory was burned into my mind. It came back, like muscle memory, in a split-second, the moment I stepped off the ferry with Marty.

I calmed down naturally ~ without any pharmaceutical help…

The tone of my relationship with Marty changed. Our hosts, who have been together for close to four decades, complement each other perfectly. The tone of their relationship is soft and loving all the time. I found that, like them,  the tone of our often mercurial relationship softened and sweetened. (I’m the mercurial one, not Marty ~ surprise, surprise!)

I was less shrill, though still self-conscious. Back here, I’m trying desperately to hold onto this feeling. To make it last, though I fear it’s slipping away, with each day.

But I suspect that feeling will survive Irene. Spirit always does.

You can be whoever you really are or want to be, when you are there. The real you. Or a facet of the real you that you like best. The person beneath the public face.

When I started writing this, I had no idea how badly Hurricane Irene battered Fire Island or if at all.

On Saturday, August 27, Q & T were evacuated. It was mandatory.

They caught the second last ferry from a deserted island and spent the rest of the weekend safe of their Manhattan apartment. Their very philosophical about it. What can they do about Mother Nature? They’ll deal with that later. They had to drive their daughter to college the following day. Another milestone in their lives.

Cherry Grove’s spirit is stronger than any storm …

That gutsy little community and it’s intrepid residents who summer on a sand dune facing the Atlantic have weathered hurricanes for almost 100 years. Lots of them. All kinds. Real and metaphorical. Meteorological and sociological. Political and constitutional. Legal. Big time!

And the community continues to thrive and grow more beautiful and diverse and charming and welcoming because of this. Not in spite of it. This is no accident. In many ways, Cherry Grove is a symbol of intrepid spirit. And that’s why it’s so special. (One of many reasons.)

And after all, symbols are sometimes all we have.

Have a good safe and healthy “new” year. A “new” beginning. A “new” day.

Every morning, the first thought that crosses my consciousness is, “I’m still here.”

That kicks things off on a good note. The rest is up to me and it’s also up for grabs. That’s the challenge. Makes life interesting. What else can you ask for?

Here’s to you! Thanks for your patience. I am still here. Weathering a few storms of my own. More later.

Hugs, sln


The Cherry Grove State-of-Mind, Part 2…

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2011). The Cherry Grove State-of-Mind, Part 2…. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Sep 2011
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