Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Place Where I Live

I live on an island, surrounded, as all islands are required to be, by water. I grew up here and lived here for twenty-six years before getting married and moving overseas for a few years with my husband. When we returned to the states, we made stops in Maryland and then Florida. Ten years after I left home, I came back to stay and noticed something that never struck me before. The water is literally everywhere. Travel down any main road, and you'll glimpse snippets of the river to the east and the bay to the west. I took that for granted the first time I lived here. After a decade spent elsewhere, I notice it every day.

Walking just now from the high school football game, I had panoramic water views of the river and the northern most point of the island. From my back porch, I have a pie-shaped piece of the river to look out on year round. I use that scrap of water to judge the wind, to see if there are white caps, to notice that every day the river takes on a different shade of blue. In the winter, after the leaves fall, we have a winter water view that stretches for miles. The only way I would ever move again is for a spectacular year round water view. I dream about a having a writing grotto that looks out over the water. However, I worry that I would wile the day away staring out at the ever-changing view. The water resides in my soul. Before we were married, I told my Hoosier-born husband that I could never, would never live in Indiana and even then he understood. After twenty years in the Navy and now six years here, I don't think he could be landlocked again either. Don't get me wrong, Indiana is a beautiful place, and I love to visit there. But the Wabash River is no substitute for my beloved ocean. When we lived in Maryland, I was under the impression that we lived close to the ocean—until the day we set out for Ocean City and discovered it was three hours away. I cried all the way home.

We experience the depths of every season—from biting, frigid cold in the winter to life-draining heat in the summer, from the soft promise of spring to the earthy decay of a spectacularly colorful autumn. You can be born, grow up, go to college, get decent a job in the defense or other industry, and never have to leave my island. In fact, many people really never leave. I've heard talk of a man in Newport who has never been over the "new" Jamestown Bridge, which opened in 1988. I believe it. Three bridges, one on the south end and two on the north, provide the only ways off the island by car. On the south side, you must cross two bridges to get to mainland Rhode Island. Those bridges, the Newport Bridge in particular which graces the banner of this site, are symbols of home to me. No matter how far I travel, they mark the way home. Yet our island is big enough that it is easy to forget you're on an island, unlike Block Island to our south, which has not a single traffic light nor a bridge to connect it to anything. You must fly there or take a ferry or private boat. We are known here on Aquidneck Island as the home of the City by the Sea and the Sailing Capital of the World. We're also home to world-famous mansions, a ten-mile Ocean Drive, and spectacular beaches.

My father grew up in Newport, the southern most of the three towns on my island. My mother was raised in the north in Portsmouth, so it was no wonder that I was brought up in Middletown. A compromise if ever there was one. Today I live in Portsmouth, the town we loved to hate as Middletowners. My 10-year-old son worries that when he plays high school sports I'll root for Middletown over his team. Maybe I will, but he'll never know! We live on Education Lane, at the corner of Conjunction Junction (okay, I made up that part). The high school sits at the top of our hill. Excited PA announcers and marching band music from football games dance through the air of our neighborhood on crisp fall Friday nights. I tell my children that kids brought up on Education Lane are expected to be world-class scholars.

My husband and I once teased my brother about never living outside the state of Rhode Island. Sitting on the back of our father's boat in picturesque Brenton Cove, my brother gestured to the breathtaking view of Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge. "And go where?" he asked. After going there and coming back, I couldn't have said it better myself.


Michele Ann Young said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to live Marie. Being English, the sea is in my blood and I have always wanted to live beside it. It is my dream. I mention it every time I get. We live by the Great Lakes here in Canada, and have a cottage on one of the smaller ones, and one might think they are as good as the sea. But no. No tides, no salty tang in the air, no seaweed to add undertones of something darker in the air. But as things go, I like them very much. They have lovely storms and winds that whip them into big waves, and wildlife not seen around my city home.
Still, I'm hoping for an ocean front one day.
Thanks for reminding me. lol It does sound lovely. I had never heard of your island before.

Cheryl Brooks said...

Alas, I live in landlocked Indiana with nary an ocean in sight! Gives me something to look forward to when I go to Myrtle Beach, though, which might be a good thing!
However, your island sounds like a great place to live. Never been that far north, but maybe I will someday. I'm going to Las Vegas in two weeks, and I've never been west of the Mississippi before. Never been even as far as the Mississippi, either, but at least I can spell it....
I need to get out more....

Marie Force said...

Hey Michele,
Nice to know it's not just me who can look across the vastness of the Great Lakes and think, nope, not the same. The Lakes are beautiful in their own unique way, though. Come to my island to visit sometime. You will love Newport! Thanks for coming by!

Marie Force said...

Hi Cheryl,
Come visit sometime! My husband would love to have another Hoosier here to defend him against all the New Englanders who make fun of every word that comes out of his mouth. Enjoy Vegas! I've never been there, but it's on my list of places to get to one of these days! Thanks for stopping by and holding my blogging feet to the fire!

Helen said...

Sounds like a place I would love to live I live in true suburbia in the western suburbs of Sydney but I love visiting the coast and seeing the ocean it is so relaxing.

Have Fun

Marie Force said...

Hi Helen,
Thanks for zipping over from down under to say hello! I know Sydney has some marvelous water views as well. I hope to get there some day to see them for myself!

Sharon Lathan said...

Your home sounds wonderful, Marie. I know what you mean about where you grow up. I grew up in the literal midst of the California Las Padres forest. It is still in my heart, even though I would not now want to live in a town with 3000 souls! I am in the Cal. valley, totally landlocked with the ocean 3 hours away, but the looming Sierra Nevadas just minutes away ease that need for lofty summits and tall pines within reach. I lived on the Pacific coast for years, and although I do love the ocean, for me it must be mountains.

Marie Force said...

Thanks for coming by, Sharon. I love hearing about the various places that call to others. I would love to see your mountains. Maybe someday!