Hebden: a Bridge between Worlds
I heard about Hebden Bridge long before I first saw her. I came through on the train with an old girlfriend. I saw houses through the trees, steep hill sides, and thought how nice to live here, hidden from the rest of the world. Later, I realised it's not so far from anywhere, more halfway to everywhere. I came here the first time when life seemed settled, on some sort of course.
Not much later, I fell apart, swiftly followed by everything else.
The cracks in the world, which had been small prices to pay for happiness, widened and gaped when there was no longer hope to keep me grinning and bearing.
I couldn't escape everything, couldn't (wouldn't) erase memories. But some things I could change. I saw the chasm between the world I lived in, and the world as I wanted it to be – and made the giant leap that helped to get me moving again, got me hoping.
Before I moved here, my councillor was BNP.
Before I moved here, all bus drivers were miserable.
Before I moved here, my local shop only ordered two Guardians, but a hundred Daily Mails.
Before I moved here, I'd have had to move if I had kids.
Before I moved here, the air made me cough.
Before I moved here, people looked at me funny if I smiled, or spoke to them at the bus stop.
Before I moved here, I had to listen to racism, homophobia, and idiocy every day.
It isn't paradise, nor perfect. And not everyone might agree, but I found somewhere I feel I fit. I found a home.
It's still hard to make friends, I'm shyer than I care to admit. But I'm slowly finding my feet. I might not know names, but I know faces. I'm trying to get more involved. And there is so much in which to be involved! Communities within communities, Ever decreasing circles of interest, and influence and ideas. People here have hope, ambition, creativity, love. A sense of community, of society.
Hebden is a bridge between worlds. Each person here a brick, a stone. Together we know we can make things better. And people here are more prepared to try than anywhere else I've ever seen.
Hebden is the old and the new. The resurrection of the town shows what happens if you don't just give up and leave things that seem past their time to rot. Hebden can be the birthplace, and nursery for talent, innovation, and bright futures. To stay standing another 500 years we must make sure the bridge is built from all of us – the strong and the weak, the old and the young, those with ancient roots here, and those of us who have blown in with the breeze and found fertile ground.
I wish I could be here to be sure, but something tells me we will succeed, and the valley will see ever more beautiful wild roses blooming by the bridge.
Sarah L. Long