Although most of my law practice is within an hour or so of here, I can, and sometimes do, travel the whole state. I've appeared, at one time or another, in every appellate department of the state's courts and in all four judicial districts of the federal ones. Also, I've found my way into somewhere near half the 62 counties of this state, to appear or at least to file stuff. Almost always, I've found my way through pure dead reckoning: I aim for the nearest exit on the 90 or 17/86, point the car to the city, village or burg hosting the court, and it's usually the big building with a dome or somesuch in or near the center of town.
Oddly, one place I've never appeared- yet- is in a county I should know well, from having grown up next to it. When I was a kid, Suffolk County was, essentially, "the country"- a good 10-20 years behind the western part of Long Island in becoming completely strip-suburbanized. Potatoes and ducks were major industries, and drives out to my cousins or godparents took us down, if not dirt roads, certainly more winding and foresty ones.
More recently, the western towns of Suffolk have become indistinguishable from the tract-laced ticky-tacky of my own youth- just as Nassau turns more and more into a clone of Queens. I must admit to knowing little about Suffolk geography except at its westernmost end and the two separate fish-taily points of its east end- the North and South Forks that still retain some of the more rural character. In fact, about the only place I do
know, from regular visits, is, more or less, where our family plot is out in a town called Hauppauge. It's the final resting place of two grandparents, one aunt, my father (about which less said the better), but, most importantly, my sister Sandy. One year and one week ago, one of my nieces and I visited her out there- getting lost in the usual maze of twisty turns between the end of the Northern State Parkway and the little side street hosting the cemetery. Nicole left her a medal from the half-marathon she'd run earlier that day, and we both left flowers.
As it happens, I have a court appearance scheduled for a federal court out there later this week, in a place I've never been to. As I said, other than the on-the-border towns like Huntington, I know little if anything about where anything lies out there from Amagansett to Yaphank (no Z-places that I know of), and certainly didn't know whether Central Islip was northish or southish, western end or way out east.
So I googled the courthouse directions, and instead of hearing Siri talking, I essentially heard Sandy:Via Northern State Parkway: to the last exit, Veterans Memorial Highway (Rte. 454). East to Wheeler Road (Rte. 111). Proceed south approx. 1 mile, go under Long Island Expressway overpass, bear left onto Wheeler Road (SC17), going South-cross Suffolk Avenue, Wheeler Road becomes Carleton Avenue. Continue South to Spur Drive North. Left onto Spur Drive North.
End of the parkway? Wheeler Avenue? I'm practically driving past the gate of the cemetery in order to get there.
Now I would have detoured anyway- to mark the occasion, pass on the love and respects that we have and always will have for her- even if Central Islip turned out to be Central Asia in terms of distance. But it's a special kind of karma to know that it's going to be an easy go of it- and that I should be able to make it home before the end of Thursday after I'm done with both work and memories that day.
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