Bellevue Avenue: in Newport, that’s a fancy street. I don’t spend much time on fancy streets anywhere I go, but I had a meeting at a museum on Bellevue so there I was, curving out onto the point on a wet, grey day that made everything look like a WPA photograph.
Bellevue runs down the eastern side of Aquidneck Island; the houses look out onto the water of Easton Bay, or across the street at each other, in the rare cases where they’re even close to facing.
It was a kind of mysterious trip; the rain curtained the street, hiding facades better than fences, and even listening to the kind of music I like, I could have slipped into an afternoon of pre-code films on TCM.
There was a for sale sign on one property (Sotheby’s Realty, of course), and for an instant, I imagined walking into the house and owning it, starting a life completely different from the one I live, with different people and places.
Isn’t that what we do, or try to do, when we dress in these funny clothes and inhabit these historic places? We’re trying to slip the bonds that tie us to the mundane, quit the quotidian, and live a different life and time.
I wouldn’t want to live in the Elms or Marble House, but moments of imagining, and truly inhabiting, a different world are what make living history so appealing for interpreters and visitors alike.