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Crossing Bridges and Borders

I’ve been on a trip down Memory Lane…….The picture here is of the Tamar Bridge in Cornwall, England, one of my favourite structures. I find bridges so aesthetically appealing: I love their architecture, and also their symbolic value, what they represent: a transition to another state or place.

I crossed this particular bridge (in literal, physical terms) most recently last weekend. The reason is that I have been indulging in a bit of a nostalgia-fest lately. Besides listening to a lot of 1980’s music (the stuff that was in the charts when I was in my 20s), I had a hankering to visit an area I used to live for some years, which I hadn’t been back to in 10 years. I now live in the Greater London area, but in 2008, I moved from Cornwall, a long, long way from here. I had moved to Plymouth with my partner at the time, Dennis, in 2002, and we were both working in the city at that time.

The city of Plymouth is right on the border between Devon and Cornwall, separated by the Tamar river.  When we left the house in Plymouth and went our separate ways, I moved to a place in Cornwall, and one of the perks of living there was that I got to drive to work each day over the Tamar Bridge, which gives awe-inspiring views. One of the few things I missed about living down there was that drive over the bridge, so it was wonderful to do it again on Saturday

I drove to Cornwall and back in one day (a round trip of around 500 miles) which was very time-consuming and tiring, but so worth it. I went to see the house where we used to live in Plymouth, then the office I had worked in for around 4 years (right on the outskirts of the city, on the edge of Dartmoor. I used to love the views from the upper floor of the building). Following that, I crossed the border (that invigorating drive across the bridge) and visited the other town I used to live in, Callington, a small place, a bit out in the wilds. It is quite rural and the scenery is beautiful round there. I had a look at the flat from the outside, then had a bit of walk round, had something to eat, then drove home, arriving back at around 2 in the morning.

I guess it was a very long way to drive just for a couple of hours in the area, but I didn’t mind, as I like driving. I had the urge to visit  there again to kind of put that part of my life to bed, achieve closure in my mind, as it were. I can’t honestly say I was happy living down there, mainly because I was on my own, didn’t really know anyone, and felt very isolated, that is why I moved up here, to be closer to family and friends. In fact, it was probably the most lonely and isolated period I have ever had in my life, and I was despairing of ever being able to escape from that situation. I had been trying to relocate from there for years, without success, then I had a stroke of luck in the form of a cash windfall, a small inheritance, which enabled me to find a house to live in  up here (I had no job at the time, so I was only able to get it because I had the money to pay for 6 months rent in advance. That at least got me into the area I wanted to be, and gave me some breathing space).

I remember so vividly how alienated, miserable and despairing I  frequently was down there in the South West, and how hard it was to get out, but the point is, I did it eventually. Driving away on Saturday evening, I recollected how the last time I had done that drive, it was to move away completely: the van with most of my things had gone on ahead, and I had the rest of my possessions and my cat in the car with me, on a gruelling 7-hour drive in bad weather conditions to our new home.  The whole relocation process had been both physically and emotionally extremely harrowing, so by the end I was  quite giddy with relief that I had at last managed it. That was, I think the main reason I wanted to go back; to say goodbye one last time to my old haunts, which held a lot of bittersweet memories for me, and  also to remind myself that through perseverance I had  eventually cracked a problem which seemed at one time to be insurmountable. Like me, my former partner Dennis has also crossed a metaphorical bridge since then: he passed over to the other side (i.e. left this world) some 11 years ago. It was he who left me the money so that I could relocate, which was the only consolation I had following his untimely demise. I know he is still around though, looking down on me.

I am currently trying to change my life again and find a new home; after nearly 5 years here, it is time to move on. I am a much stronger person than I used to be, and there has been more than one big improvement in my life in the last 10 years; for one thing, I am now in full-time employment again, after being mainly out of work for around 9 years, and I also no longer suffer from severe clinical depression, which had plagued me for around 35 years.

I moved to this town I am now mainly as a result of circumstance not choice,  but it has given me stability, although it is not somewhere I am planning to stay forever. A new life, a new location beckons….. I don’t know where to go, or how to do it, but I am confident a solution will present itself at some point.  There is another bridge to cross, soon I feel….The future certainly looks brighter than it did a few years ago, at any rate.

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Written by Maggie Bailey

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