how do i love thee

Personally, I want the sea always... and with it sunshine, and wine, and a little music. -- Max Beerbohm

I am writing this in a park, not far from our home. A blissful, perfect, clear summer evening. Quintessential, the kind you remember as a kid, along with ice cream cones and sparklers... But instead of absorbing the glories of the midwest, I am thinking of Bermuda, and trying to catch that island in words.

(snapping pictures from the back of my dad's moped)

Though it's home for my dad, it's still a strange place for me, even on this, my fourth visit.

There are times when I love it, and yet many things I don't love--the relentless suffocating humidity, the way everything rusts, and the narrow stacked-on-top-ness of the inner parts. I'm used to the sprawl of fields and fields... pinched lanes make me gasp after a while.

But there is much, very much, to love about Bermuda, and that's what I went searching for on this trip, and this is what I found:

* It is away. Sometimes, there are no prices to put on the value of shedding the daily clutter and chaos, the traps in my mind, the patterns I fall into...

* The houses. I fall in love with the Bermudan palette on every visit. What color would I paint my house, if I lived here? I try to choose, as Dad and I buzz around the island on his moped. Would I pick the rich brightness of pineapple-yellow? Or some mellower pumpkin? Would I be mysterious and stormy, and go for grey + white? Perhaps the oddly safe Bermudan pink? Or would I try to echo the turquoise in the waves?

* The names of these bright houses, and the names of the streets. I'm reading everything, everywhere we go, trying to choose favorites. What's most evocative, most funny... Who lives in houses like Casabella, Loquat, Farleigh, Tamarisk Hall, Woodsea, High Five, or Brightside? And what would you find on streets like The Pampas, Black Watch Pass, Point Finger Road, Fractious Lane, and:

(my younger sister thinks we should drop banana peels up and down this hill, and then retake the picture... i think she's right.)

* In some ways, I love the first drive on the island the best: the taxi ride from airport to apartment. It always reminds me of my first disorienting minutes on the island nine years ago--my first trip. I stared out at this new world, from the wrong side of the road, with taxi drivers far less timid than I about taking the corners...

* Or do I love nights the best? Driving home on quiet, winding streets, breathing in the perfume of unknown flowers, stretching my bare toes in the warm velvety air. Or watching the beam of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse as it fingers Dad's windows after dark...

(Johnny Barnes, perhaps the island's friendliest man, greeting every car and bike on their way into Hamilton)

* Or do I love the accents best? The accents that defy my definitions, but are something like sunwarmed, saltsplashed British? Perhaps I do, perhaps I love the accents best, as every spoken syllable reminds me that I'm far away, far away...

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