Often I catch myself in a trance-like state as I ride my bike down Second Avenue in the evenings. The streetlights are few to none, leaving the concrete beneath my wheels to be illuminated only by the glow of passing houses and the hanging moon above my head. With the steady hum of my tires and a calming breeze that rustles the branches of the trees on either side of me, it’s easy to get lost in thought until a light flashes for a brief moment in the distance. Many times I’ve thought this strange flash to be a stroke of lightning until I come to realize that it is the ever-faithful lighthouse.
Countless treks have taken me up and down the 199 steps that create the spiral staircase of the lighthouse. If you added up all the steps I’ve climbed after going up and down so many times, it’s probably enough steps to take me to the top of Mount Everest. While the actual climb itself may seem repetitive, as I’ve done it more than my fair share of times, the view from the top is one that never gets old.
There is no way to fully capture the first peak outside as I burst in to a gust of salty air. I spend the climb peering through porthole after porthole, increasing the speed of my feet as my flip-flops clang louder and faster on the winding metal steps. The closer to the top, the quicker the pace, until finally a light can be seen leaking in through the doorway. It seeps through and demands my gaze, my eyes attracted to the light just like those of a moth. As I near and it grows brighter, finally stepping on to the round ledge, everything is too bright to see until my eyes adjust, at which time I feel enveloped in a sense of home.
The water spans all the way to the horizon, and I see rooftops and bodies of water and marsh that stretch all the way down to the Cove beach. From the time I was 5 to now 18, this view has always been one that has greeted me with happy memories. I’ve climbed the lighthouse with grandparents, family, and friends more times than I will ever be able to count, and there are still many more times to come when I one day have a family.
As I will soon be leaving for college and a whole new world riddled with change awaits, I know that the reliable lighthouse shall always be standing strong and unmovable upon my return. While her revolving light provides boats with a knowledge of where the shoreline sits, she shows me where home is. Where the waves gently crash upon the sand and the treetops are illuminated by occasional flashes, where bike rides are often and uneventful nights are few, that is where home is. Wherever my travels take me, the lighthouse will always show me the way back to my beloved Cape May.