Growing up in Newport was kind of odd in one sense. I mean, I walked past the spot where General Rochambeau surrendered to George Washington a million times! I don’t think I ever thought as I walked past it, “Hey! That’s a historical spot!”
Houses on lower Spring Street had those steps on them that went up one side and down the other. And of course, I’d walk up the steps and down them again instead of using the sidewalk… because I was a kid. You know, Washington walked past those steps.
Standing in the harbor, there was a recreation of the USS Rose, who actually took part fighting against America in that war.
Newport gets in your bones. There’s all that history there, a feeling, a vibe. While all of Rhode Island has a specific feel you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and you’re definitely aware in Rhode Island of history, Newport had a feel all its own. Especially with the truly bizarre history of Newport as you dig deeper.
While i aspire to owning a Rhode Island sized home in Exeter or Coventry where a one acre lot seems to be the status quo and 5 acre lots are common (there’s one for sale in Coventry with 95+ acres, and they’re throwing in the historic 1712 house on the lot for free) – I’d trade it all to live on Mill street in Newport, or perhaps Bull Street. Or any of the little houses lining the cliffs on Ocean Drive.
And I can say I was stupid enough to join the Midnight club in Newport – turning off the headlights on your car on Ocean Drive at midnight and driving based on memory and sound. No accidents, so I passed. Of course, an accident on Ocean Drive means going over the edge and landing in… the ocean, 30 feet below. That’s pretty stupid, but I’d say it’s probably the stupidestest thing I did as a teenager.
I’m so grateful I had the chance to spend my youth in Newport. I’m so grateful I’d spend hours walking around the city looking at it, instead of getting into the trouble most other kids my age got into.
The images, thoughts and feelings of growing up there couldn’t come from anywhere else, even if I’d grown up in Providence! What I experienced moving into a house with TWO stairways truly inspired me, and to this day drives me with enough atmosphere that I’d say I absolutely have no alternative than to be a writer.