We have lived in the same place for over eighteen years now, in the town my husband’s family moved to when he was thirteen. Sometimes I wonder when it will stop feeling new--except I hope it never does--primarily as a result of my reaction to one winding stretch of street that cuts along the edge of our little burb.
There, thick trees and rambling stone walls hide mysterious homes somewhere beyond a blockade of green, all of which possess reaching views of the Atlantic. If it weren't for mailboxes at the ends of long driveways though, you'd never know most of them were there. The narrow road greys to twilight under the impenetrable vegetation that protects these secret gems--until you round a curve to an open graphic, where Cunningham Bridge, a 1950’s remnant, crosses a tidal river that spews the ocean into a salt water inlet.
For the three years we dated before we got married, I’d visit my husband here in town, and every time we encountered the area around the bridge I’d marvel: “I can’t believe people live here.” During our first eight years of marriage, when we resided elsewhere, we’d visit on the weekends. By that point, I'd seen it many times, but remained compelled to interrupt conversation with that same phrase when we drove over the bridge, always a little shaken by the unrelenting beauty.
In truth, our town hosts too many stunning views to choose a favorite, but there is something about this particular one that twists my insides and fires up a longing to stop and freeze the video--something about traversing a dim and shadowed road to burst out to drifting aqua on one side and churning blue on the other--two distinct worlds of water divided by an ordinary bridge.
On the sea side, a jagged current sifts between a set of rock-strewn banks, ebbing and flowing on schedule with the blue swells surging beyond the cut. Once the water passes under the bridge though, it stills to a placid glide inside a huge saltwater pond. On calm days, perfect reflections of the granite monoliths that grow up from the middle rest on quiet water. Fish nibble expanding circles, the dark leaves from the surrounding trees stare back at themselves; egrets and moaning seagulls dip down for food.
After crossing this bridge hundreds of times now, I have managed to turn the volume on my awe down some, keeping the comments to myself. Yet, each time the bend in the road before the bridge appears, it’s a surprise, like stumbling on a painting I’ve never seen, a watercolor of wash and drift and grain and flow framed on the edge of the earth. Inevitably, I take a long breath and sigh and shake my head while a refrain forms in my brain; “I can’t believe I live here.”