100. Full circle

 

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2013

 

 

Yesterday, we drove down to Kingston, Just outside of Princeton, to see the oldest bridge in America and to satisfy my shutter-bug obsession. It was a beautiful, warm day and after wandering about for a bit we decided we’d head for our favourite brewpub in Long Valley and enjoy a couple of their fine ales.

As we sat outside supping our beers, It all seemed very familiar. The day was very like those I’d experienced on my very first trip to visit Jersey girl. The kids are currently  away at their Grandmother’s, just as they were back then.

I reminded my wife that this very brewpub was the first place we ever went out to dinner together. And that’s when it hit us. This was actually the five year anniversary of that very meal.

Somehow, completely unintentionally, we’d ended up back at the place where we had our first proper date. I was kind of stunned at the almost audible click of that long five-year circle finally closing.

That’s not the first such instance lately either. A few months ago, after our last Immigration interview had been successfully navigated, we stopped off at the Clinton Diner for some lunch and while sitting there had remembered that this was the very first diner we ever visited together.

We’d chosen, on that day of all days, to eat in the first place we ever went together (didn’t count as a first date, though, it was just breakfast).

On top of that, we have recently been forced to move house (and towns) and quite fortuitously have ended up back in the town where JG was living when we two first met.

It all feels like completion, like all the strings are finally being tied. There’s a sense, we both feel, that we are where we are meant to be and that the path ahead is clearer than ever.

This is Loveletter 100* and feels like a good place to end. I don’t suppose anyone will ever read through all 100 entries but for anyone that might, I think the story has the capability to inspire.

I don’t think there was a single person who actually believed that a relationship that began on social media between two people on opposite sides of the world had a snowball’s chance in Hell; not one.

No one, that is, except those same two people. We knew to the very core of our souls that we would succeed, that no matter what was thrown at us and no matter how hard the journey, we would ultimately be together.

Time has proven us right and yesterday was a reminder that anything in this world is possible, you just have to want it enough.

 

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*If you’re new to this blog and you want to know what it’s all about, you can go to the Love letters section and start reading.

 

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Iron men: Part 4

 

 

Part 3

 

The town my family are now living in is named for a bridge that cannot be seen. Despite its considerable height (34m) and length (400m), the iron trestle bridge is invisible to the eye.

It was built across the South Branch of the Raritan River by the Central Railway Company of New Jersey in the 1850s but saw almost no use in its originally intended form.

The official reason given for this was that the bridge was too ‘costly to maintain’ but the truth was that the bridge swayed whenever a train crossed and people were simply reluctant to use it.

This was a scandalous state of affairs but the solution chosen had a touch of genius about it. The railway simply buried the bridge supports under rail-truck loads of earth (and indeed even the rail-trucks themselves were dumped over the side to add anchorage to the mound).

 

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For scale, the flag mural is painted on a full sized shipping container.

 

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Another scale comparison.

 

It took five years to complete the job but by 1864 the bridge had been replaced by a massive embankment. The only visible structure that now remains is a double tunnel through which a road and the river pass beneath the embankment. However, the bridge in some form still exists at the core of the mound.

 

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The South Branch of the Raritan River which the oiginal bridge was built to traverse.

 

 

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Apparently, a Selena Gomez music video was shot in this tunnel a few years back. I confess I know next to nothing about her but I’m sure some people would find that interesting. This (according to local lore) is also meant to be some kind of supernatural ‘hot-spot’.

 

High Bridge was originally incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 29, 1871, ironically, named for a bridge which technically no longer existed as such.

 

Words and images are my own.

 

©2018

97. Straight to you

 

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I travelled 16,618 km (103256 miles) to be with my wife. At least, that is the distance, as the crow flys, between Melbourne Australia and New Jersey. Of course, I made the trip five times before that final permanent one. Five times both ways; 166,180 km plus the final trip bringing the total to 182,798 km or 113,585.411 miles.

Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of travel hours; a lot of time spent jammed into undersized airplane seats listening to babies cry and people snore, a lot of time dashing through strange airports trying not to miss my connection, a lot of time being irradiated in body scanners and harangued by the TSA.

Add to that the heartbreaking farewells at the end of each of those five visits and the weeks of depression once I’d returned to Melbourne and the whole thing feels a little Homerespue; at the very least, it is an epic(ish) poem of devotion and unflagging determination.

Was it worth it? Was all the lost sleep, longing, anxiety, and sheer discomfort worth the final reward?

Absolutely.

Jersey girl and I recently passed the one year mark in our real life together. One year living under the same roof. One year living as a family. It has been challenging, rewarding, vexing, and, at times, downright confusing but mostly it has felt like home. We live well together. Our chemistry has survived close and prolonged proximity. If there was a honeymoon period, it is still very much in effect.

I wake up every day and thank the universe for this woman with whom I now share my world. She has shown me what true love and devotion really are.

And my new adopted country?

America, much to my surprise has become a strange fascination to me. I have felt myself falling in love with her too. Her seasons, her moods, her people, and her beating heart (New York) have captured me in ways and with an intensity, I never would have guessed could happen to me.

There is a feeling that anything is possible here, that you might discover who you truly are as this vast melting pot of ideas and cultures reflects your persona, your mask, back at you. America will not let you hide from your true self. She demands that you simply be – you.

Challenge accepted.

 

 

Underground

 

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Theseus

 

The shortest distance

Between two points

Is no distance

If gravity tugs

If you begin to drift

Remember the string

That warm red thread

tied at each end

Around your soul and mine

remember

And reel in

that shimmering fish

Of rainbow scales

My wandering mind

Don’t fear the labyrinth

Lie down here beside me

I’ll encircle you

Pull you closer

And get lost in you again.

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2018

 

If you sleep always like this

 

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This town where Jersey girl and I currently live is tiny, really tiny. It is more properly a village than a town. It was officially established as a turnpike village around 1806, however, tucked away in an almost forgotten corner is the original cemetery dating back to the mid 1700’s.

I’ve visited the spot once before back in the Summer but it was so overgrown with bushes and Ivy that it was hard to read the inscriptions on a lot of the stones. I remember thinking that this was a cemetery that kept its secrets well.

As I mentioned in the last post, my son has been visiting with us from Melbourne and a few days ago he and I went back to the small cemetery to take some photographs. Upon arrival, we discovered that the place had been considerably cleared since the Summer.

It was much easier to gain access to the stones and we quickly discovered something quite amazing. This tiny place holds the remains of not one but five soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

This was a great surprise to me. Even today the village population is far less than two thousand. At the time of the Revolution, this wasn’t even a settlement, just a collection of scattered farms. And yet, somehow, we have five graves of men who fought in (and survived) the great war for independence.

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We even have a soldier born on the 4th of July.

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Words and images are my own.

 

©2018

The Cascades

 

 

My son is currently visiting us from Melbourne and we’ve really been enjoying showing him around the county (it’s actually his third time here but there’s always more to see). He really seems to love the place (not to mention our proximity to both NYC and Philly).

Yesterday, he and I took a hike along the Columbia trail in High Bridge. I’d never done the walk in winter and was amazed by how different it all looked.

Several times along the way we came across little patches of wonder. I don’t think I ever realised before how beautiful mere frozen water could be.

 

 

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The ice was very thick.

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Rather than retrace our footsteps, we followed the Raritan River back to High Bridge.

 

Words and images are my own.

 

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

Under Ice

 

Jersey girl and I took a little trip to Clinton the other day. It was just after the recent snows but, on that particular day, the sun was out, the air was warm, and the snow had all but melted away.

On our way to get coffee, we passed by the river where I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite the warmth of the day, there was a full covering of ice. Understand, I come from a country where you rarely, if ever, see frozen rivers (perhaps the odd high mountain stream) and, except for that first visit to Clinton three winters ago, I hadn’t really seen this kind of beauty up close before (a frozen duck pond in a London park when I was eight doesn’t count).

I wished I had my camera with me but had to make do with the ubiquitous phone shots. I just loved the ring patterns that had been formed, I presumed, by swirling waters warming up beneath the ice.

Anyway, I thought some of you (probably not the East Coasters) might enjoy the images I got, so here they are.

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All images are my own.

 

©2017