It was 2006, right on the verge of summertime. The worlds of two born-and-raised NYC kids – a boy who lived near Coney Island and a girl from Astoria, Queens – unexpectedly collided on a skybridge at Hunter College. We were on opposite ends of the N train and would have never met if it wasn’t for a chance meeting through mutual friends at the end of the semester. We were two offbeat free spirits who just wanted to love and be loved by someone who didn’t want to change us, someone who could live loud and bright and not hold back. The greatest gift was that we each became that person for each other, and a little over four and a half years later we still look back on our amazing first summer – school was out and we fell in love in Coney Island.
Eric always loved Coney and grew up immersed in its storied history, spending days and nights on the beach, and hanging out under the boardwalk. Audrey traveled from Queens with her family to visit the NY Aquarium and play in Astroland nearly every summer, but could have never imagined how much Coney would mean to her in the coming years. Eric stole her heart that summer, but so did Coney Island! He taught her about its glories and tragedies as they talked and walked hand-in-hand around the area for hours – marveling at every piece of its past still left in the present, imagining how things would be if Steeplechase still stood, if the Childs Restaurant still bustled with life, if Dreamland and Luna Park still glittered in the night. Coney Island, which was already so much a part of Eric, became a huge part of Audrey and their life as a whole, too.
We’ve never stopped going back to traverse the boardwalk and the avenues, year after year, season to season – celebrating the triumphs and mourning the sorrows. We skated in Lola’s rink on the boardwalk, watched Astroland close and the new Luna Park go up, laughed in the sunshine at the Mermaid Parade, waited in the dark for the fireworks, heard the unmistakable howl of the deserted amusements in the winter and walked on the beach in the snow. But perhaps even more importantly, we keep Coney Island with us wherever we go. That spark of life and fun, the beauty in the grit, that wild sideshow spirit and the joyous energy of millions who called it their own – it set the tone for our relationship since that very first summer.
We are truly each other’s partner in crime and very best friend, and our life together is filled with disco balls and lightning bolts, hot pink and leopard print, rock shows, neon lights, and never-ending adventures – and it all began in Coney Island!