Wilmington, NC – The OTH Bridge

“There’s a day when you realize that you’re not just a survivor; you’re a warrior. You’re tougher than anything life throws your way.” – Brooke Davis, One Tree Hill

This past January, I visited Wilmington, North Carolina where the One Tree Hill series was filmed. The most emotional of the places that I visited was a rusted, white bridge, that is seen in each episode’s introduction as Lucas Scott dribbles a basketball across.

How can a bridge be emotional? I guess it wasn’t the bridge as much as it was the actions of people from across the nation that impacted my experience there at that time and still today. One Tree Hill’s story is a rollercoaster of emotions, detailing the struggles and blessings of friendship and love. The show never saw an absence of inspirational quotes – from an entire range of emotions. These two quotes were of hundreds written in permanent marker on the bridge.

“People always leave…” is barely visible on the left side, but another person responded to her by saying, “But sometimes they come back.”

Some quotes have faded away and you can see where people retraced them. Some people wrote half of a quote, while someone else finished it – adding even more emotion to my experience visiting. For example, one of the most recognized phrases of the show is from the two-part quote, “People always leave…but sometimes they come back.” It’s said by one of the main characters, Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), through her struggle of loss, absence, and much more. If you look closely at my photo, you can see a very faded “people always leave” on the left side. I could tell that weather has taken its toll on this bridge between all of the rust and faded quotes. But what this photo told me is that someone out there has enough hope and faith to talk to someone through a phrase on a bridge and say, “But sometimes they come back.”

As I struggle with my own heartbreak and absences, I keep thinking about this bridge and how I felt when I took these photos. It was powerful. It was inspiring. It was uplifting. Saying “sometimes they come back”, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person we miss will come back. But it means that maybe months or years down the road, they will either come back into our lives as a friend or be replaced by someone else that will bring that feeling back.

Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush) said, “There’s a day when you realize you’re not just a survivor; you’re a warrior. You’re tougher than anything life throws your way.” She’s right. I’ve survived so far, and others have survived much worse than I have faced. So why should I let heartbreak or loss or absence define me? The more confidence and strength that I gain, I find myself to be more than just a survivor every day.



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