Over the Bridge

Almost six years ago, I wrote this post to try to describe the feeling of traveling by bridge to an island. I imagine I could write multiple posts on the experience of crossing over, one for each facet of that movement from one world into the next. Maybe I will someday. But for now, here’s one taste of what has, for me, a hint of magic in it, one explanation of that moment of crossing over:

When we went to Disney World last fall, my daughter’s favorite ride was Peter Pan’s Flight. If you’ve never been on it, you hop into a small boat that seats two or three people, and right before your boat takes off into the world of Neverland, someone stands at the entrance and sprinkles you with pixie dust.

I love that.

We rode Peter Pan’s Flight several times, and one of the times, LCB and I ended up riding together while the small people rode ahead of us. It’s one of my favorite vantage points, by the way, riding right behind my kids, close enough to see the ride through their eyes, but far enough away so they almost forget our presence.

As we entered the ride that time, I remember wondering briefly if the lady standing by the entrance to Neverland would bother sprinkling our boat with pixie dust, since no children were on board.

I should have known better.

We were duly baptized.

My daughter has long been enthralled by the idea of pixie dust, even wishing for it before she blew out her candles for her last birthday. She hasn’t exactly picked up on the concept of keeping her wishes to herself, clearly. Then again, she’s a preschooler, so she hasn’t exactly gotten the concept of keeping much of anything to herself yet. But as she’s been fixated on acquiring a personal stash of pixie dust (it’s pretty much a daily discussion point for her), it occurred to me that there is a point in our day as islanders when we get sprinkled with the proverbial pixie dust.

All three of the islands we’ve lived on are connected to the mainland by bridge, and I think it’s accurate to say that something in fact happens on that journey across the bridge, something almost ethereal. Over the years, I’ve crossed over onto one of my islands, or the neighboring ones, using high bridges, drawbridges, swing bridges and pontoon bridges, and the effect is there regardless of the bridge’s structure.

There’s this transformation that occurs, where you leave a bit of the regular everydayness of life behind you as you cross over into this world of “other,” this world where land meets sea, where you inhale salt air again and again until it lies deep within.

It’s as if, from the point where you cross over, a part of you ceases to be that adult you are, or that parent, or that employee, or that taxpayer, or especially that person who’s in charge of identifying and removing the source of the funk in your upstairs bathroom. Instead, the overwhelming part of what’s left is that inner part of the child you once were, the one who lived in a world alive with what could be. It’s a world without weight, a world where enchantment seems possible.

It’s a world where even things as implausible as pixie dust seem as if they are, in fact, real.

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