*Please Note*
As of July 2015 many photos have been intentionally removed.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

From City Street to Willow Street, Via Two Bridges

Six years ago, my family left our home in NYC to write a new script for our future. In what would become a truly spiritual experience, we realized our new life was meant to start here, in Willow Street, PA. We did not leave our home of more than 30 years on bad terms. We were not sick of city life. We had not been priced out of our community. We had not been downsized from our jobs. We still refer to NYC as "back home" and we get there on a regular basis. Having said that, a retired NYC police officer and a one-time E.M.T. knew there was also a life for us elsewhere. In true rushed city form, we spent two days in Lancaster, looked at fewer than five homes for sale, and knew where we belonged, the instant we walked in the door.
Our gateway to that door was the bridge over Mill Creek, just a short walk from our new home on Eshelman Mill Road. Anyone who has ever crossed this bridge, knows it speaks to you every time you pass. Its voice is so familiar, so predictable, you soon begin to associate its sounds with the cadence of your commute, signaling you are almost home. This was true for us six years ago. It is true for us now. With every return trip from work, church, or the market, we count on that sight and sound to tell us we are just about home.
News has come recently that this bridge will soon be taken down. The replacement will be located elsewhere, and will be made of concrete. The new bridge will not possess the soul, and surely not the voice of the current bridge. Some amount of park land will be sacrificed to make way for the new bridge, and some wildlife displaced or disturbed. All of that would be fine by me, if I knew it to be for a good cause. Sadly, I suspect the cause is money. I'm sure it's more cost efficient to erect the new bridge in a new location, than it is to restore and protect the current one. I'm sure the new bridge will call and sing to bigger trucks and cars than the current one is capable of doing. For my ears, the current bridge can never be replaced.
So often in life we stare at the same things so much, we lose sight of the beauty in them. We get used to the same angles, sounds, and colors that make up our everyday. All the while forgetting how special and unique they really are. Please don't tell me, "It's just a bridge". It's really something more. It's part of my home. Not until we had settled in, just this side of Mill Creek Bridge, did I realize how I missed the things I left behind on the other side. Another simple bridge, for example. 
Any study of architecture or history will tell you that the Brooklyn Bridge is not "just a bridge." If you just drive over it day in and day out then sure, you just see a bridge. You miss the splendor and magic that is the capitol of the world anchored on one side. The true beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge cannot be seen in your car. You must cross it on foot. You must walk on the same wooden planks that have carried millions of people to and from home for many, many years. Not until I left the city, did I realize what was behind me. I will not make that mistake again here, in my new home. 
I love NYC. It holds many great memories for me. It provides me many things Willow Street cannot. Not to be outdone, Willow Street and the Mill Creek Bridge gave me the photo below. My son and I walking under the bridge. We'll be sad to see it go.

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