Have you lived where you live long enough to have stopped seeing it?
Sometimes I think back and remember how this town looked to me when I first moved here.
The first cottage I rented was on a pond. It was a summer rental, and tiny, tiny, tiny except for the enclosed porch, which was my bedroom. My room-mate's room had a window that opened into my room. There was another bed in the hall and we intended to get a third roommate, but she never showed up. The kitchen was under the eaves and you had to duck to get into the bathroom. The water was so full of iron I got rust stains on my white waitressing shirts. At night I would come home from work and go swimming in the pond. It was just a bunch of frogs and me.
I thought everyone lived on the water.
My next cottage was on marshland, which I mistook for swamp. I didn't appreciate it at first but did spend those years with a bird book on my night table. Red winged blackbirds are still some of my favorites. And the first time I saw a goldfinch I thought someone's pet canary had escaped (seriously. I'm not from here).
I remember seeing a vending machine that looked like it would have drinks in it but was actually dispensing worms.
I remember hanging out in a surf bar and thinking I was having this huge authentic surfer experience.
I wish I could go back to that bar and feel the same awe and delight. It barely seems like the same place now, and not just because they moved the door.
Sometimes when I go to The Big City (pop. 48,000) I come back on the side roads instead of taking the highway. There are stone walls and cottage gardens, little stores, village centers, hundred year old homes, a horse pasture and bay views. The cherry trees are a little past their peak, but still glorious.
Sometimes if the wind is right you can smell the ocean from the middle of town. You don't just smell it, you can feel it on your skin - a tingly saltiness, a thickness to the air.
I guess it's the same as with any other crush. Part of the infatuation is based on what we actually know of the person/place/thing, but a good deal of it is the fiction we create around them.
And as we become acquainted, the reality may turn out to be better than the fiction - even if it's a little less exotic than we first thought. And we find that we have become the exotic ones for those just starting to create their own fiction.
If they only knew.