The island life as I have known it is slipping away day by day. I watch the pilings and progress on the new high bridge and feel the life I have come to love slowly slipping away. It has me thinking that maybe it is time to think about moving on myself.
I came to this island to be close to the ocean but also to live an island lifestyle. I found that this place, its simple charm, its history and the community inviting and just what I was looking for. I enjoy the flow from fall to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer, and summer back to fall.
The charm of the town centers not only around the people and the activities but the Swingebridge itself. Living in the heart of the island the Swingebridge is the connection to the mainland and our separation to it as well. Coming back home from a trip crossing the Swingebridge is what makes me feel at home.
I came home from this recent trip to see the building of the new bridge in full progress. As I crossed the Swingebridge my feelings of returning to Paradise and home is saddened. It didn’t feel the same. And the change is just beginning its shift.
As I watch the progress day in and day out simmering anger swirls inside. New is not always better in my opinion. I know for me the high rise bridge will change my life. It will affect my passage on and off the island.
I love walking over the Swingebridge. As I approach the bridge I look south and then north along the waterway the view is always changing and always beautiful. Sometimes it is quiet, the water still, other times it is full of activity. Stepping onto the bridge itself it shifts under my feet. Humming as traffic is drives by me. The wind sways the bridge and I maintain my footing carefully.
Part of island life is timing your passage across the bridge. In the summer months you know the bridge will open at the top of the hour so you wait and go between the hours. I for one don’t mind waiting when the Swingebridge opens, I like watching the boat traffic and admiring all the different boats as they go through the passageway. It is a sight that brings me delight and joy. Just as stepping over the beach access and seeing the ocean.
l do not see me walking over the new high rise bridge even though there will be a walkway and a bike path. The walk will be too long and too high for me. It may be a beautiful view from upon it but it will never have the same feel of walking across history or have the same significance in my heart.
The Swingebridge is the connection of history and life on Topsail even today. The ocean and beach is what draws the people who live here together it is our life pulse but the Swingebridge is the charm and history that binds us together and with the water that surrounds us. . It is the central core that runs the blood of life across the island. Without it that history and life pulse are diminished.
With the new high rise bridge the life flow will have a different pattern. It will affect the life in the central core of the island. I am not sure I will like that change. I crave change and the delight of new sights and experiences. I have wanderlust. Change is usually is exhilarating and exciting. I am dreading this change.
This island has been my homeport for eight years now. I had thought it would remain my homeport for many more. Now that remains to be seen. I am not moving my base just yet. I will wait and see. Each day though as I see the progress I am more sure that it will change this island life that I have come to know.
At the very least it has and will continue to disrupt the flow of life in the center of the island. Each day we are affected by the work going on, from the noise to construction traffic. I have felt an impact in just a month. I can’t imagine what kind of impact it will have in the summer when this island is busy with tourists.
The idea of a new bridge is to try to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow. It is still in question if it will actually do that. In the meantime it seems to be going to create congestion and make traffic flow worse through the construction phase.
Will the island lose its quiet beach community atmosphere or will it become like other beach side communities too busy and too crowded for the locals and regular visitors to live and enjoy the island life they have come to know and love? Only time will tell if the new high rise bridge will make life on the island better. I fear it will change the island in a direction that it will lose its charm, color and community.
When I started writing this article I was simmering with anger. Between watching the progress and the questions of visitors it was steaming out of me. As the words came though I find that it is very much sadness that I am feeling.
It runs much deeper than the bridge itself. I am already grieving for a way of life that seems to be disappearing. I came in search of a small town beach feel. I loved the flow of the seasons both time with my close community and sharing my love of the beach and town with visitors. That is why I settled here and made a home here.
Since I moved here, the island has already grown in leaps and bounds. I cannot deny that in some ways it has been beneficial to those of us who have businesses and work here. Still I am hesitate about further development and growth. I am not sure it is for the best.
If it blends and melds well in ways that maintain the atmosphere and charm and lifestyle of a small town beach community that I desire, I will be pleased.
If it changes things to a point that the island loses its historic and simple charm and the locals lose the beach that we know – if we spend our days busy not having time to enjoy the beach and waterway because we are too busy working to provide our visitors with activities and entertainment the growth will not be worth it. I know it is not the lifestyle I want.
I am not sure what the result will be. My gut tells me this change will change my lifestyle in ways that will no longer suit me. Maybe it will change things in a way that is more in line with the lifestyle you want. I moved here for the lifestyle I found. Not one I left behind.
It is inevitable that things change and places grow. I can be comfortable with growing pains and adjustments. A very drastic change one far from the reason I moved here, I have to question if it still is something I can live with.
Change is good but not all change is for the best. It may just be a bridge but this bridge has a major role in island life. Removing the Swingebridge and replacing it with a high rise bridge is a major change in the lifestyle, flow and vibe of this island community.
As I continue to watch the progress of the new bridge I do not think that this change will work for me. I have learned to trust my feelings and my gut on what is best for me. Maybe I am wrong. A part of me hopes I am wrong. If I am that would be wonderful but if I am right then it will be time for me to make a major change of my own and find a new homeport.