The Last Resort


By John Urban

She came from Providence, the one in Rhode Island. For some reason, those opening lyrics of Don Henley’s song The Last Resort were an oft-stated part of my youth, long before I married a girl from Providence and certainly long before our arrival at our new home on College Hill two weeks ago.

Why move to Providence? My standard line has to do with the attraction of good government, low taxes, and excellent schools. For those unacquainted with the place, this is roughly equivalent to claiming you admire Donald Trump for his reserve, modesty, and self-discipline.

Providence does, however, have many great restaurants, striking Colonial and 19th century architecture, and the cultural activities that go with being home to five colleges. Oh, and it’s the most populous city in Rhode Island — okay, I guess that’s the equivalent of claiming the honor of having highest ski slope in Alabama, but that’s something, isn’t it?


As a writer, Providence has some benefits, ones that will likely inform my senses and imagination. Already, I’ve emerged from the deepest caverns of suburbia to learn that sometimes Mercedes is a woman’s first name, young people still smoke, and people occasionally ride bikes that aren’t bolted to the health club floor.


From Suburbia to Hipsters

But I am also losing elements of my immediate past. Where did all the Labradoodles go? What happened to the Cayennes and Beamers with ACK stickers on the bumper? Who stole all the tennis dresses and riding britches?

Without realizing it, I also moved to a city on the water. Now, officially, I am writing on the water. And it’s a deep water port. If I ride my bike a mile or maybe two miles down the street I will land at the most northern reach of Narragansett Bay. From here, the world is accessible. Of course you have to first navigate around the oil tanks, beyond the cargo wharfs, and around the by the cement company, but the entire world is beyond.

Henley’s song mentions the search for paradise. For me, there’s a place down the Bay at the tip of the East Passage that many days seems close to paradise, and further down the coast and up around the Gulf there’s another that seems to fit the description. But Henley’s song, that begins with the reference to Providence, carries a warning still worth heeding:

They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

Give it a listen:

The Last Resort
By Don Henley/The Eagles

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About John Urban

Like his protagonist, John Urban has worked as a college professor and he sails the waters of Southern New England on an old wooden sailboat that he restored. He is a regular contributor to the blog Write On The Water, and his short stories have appeared in the anthologies Seasmoke and Deadfall. The ocean was his desired destination from an early age. As a boy living a landlocked life in Western Massachusetts, nights were dedicated to reading about boats and watching Flipper and weekends were spent boating and fishing, April-to-October, on Long Island Sound. Thoughts of a career at sea ended early after a stint at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but the circle of life has come around some years later in the form of the fictional world of Steve Decatur. Urban lives just outside Boston and spends his summers near the waters edge of Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound. A Single Deadly Truth, published on Amazon Kindle, is Urban's debut novel. As second Steve Decatur mystery, Masters of Rhode Island, is due out later this year.
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One Response to The Last Resort

  1. Great post, John. Loved Last Resort – I’ve been culturally deprived, never heard it before. You and Sally have moved to a very interesting city. I think we can say it has somewhat more texture than Wellesley.

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