Bridge Crossing

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Literature Text

The sky is spitting at me as I start making my way across.  Others may take offense at such rudeness, but I am not overly worried about it.  Black clouds are rolling in from the west and it appears that I am on the brink of an odd February rainstorm.  I continue my brisk stride down the already fading bike lane.  It was only striped in November, but its disappearing lines assume an older age.  It reminds me of a relationship that is exciting while new, but gets neglected after an initial flurry of attention.  This feels somewhat wrong, though maybe I hold onto things a little too much.

A car zooms past at an unnecessary speed.  Thank goodness for these bike lanes...why do people drive like idiots?  I realize that I am moving quite fast myself (for walking of course) and that a small sense of indignation has risen into my chest.  I may not be in a vehicle, but I still get caught up in the rush of morning traffic.  I slow my pace only a little...part of me wants to get caught in the storm and part of me wants to stay dry.

I could have taken a bus over the bridge, but then I would have had to wait in Oakland another ten minutes for the next 54C to arrive.  It is only a ten-minute walk across the bridge and I would make it over to the South Side with plenty of time to spare.  Plus, with the warmer weather (in spite of the threatening storm - I have my rain coat) and my dire need for winter exercise, I do not mind the extra effort on my part to cross the bridge.

I cautiously traverse the on-ramp and hurdle the barrier guarding the sidewalk.  Doing that always makes me feel a little bit outside of the law, even though there are no signs denoting that barrier jumping is illegal.

There seems to be two kinds of bridge crossing.  One is where a person crosses merely to get to the other side - getting from point A to point B - the space in between does not matter.  The other kind is where the immediate line created between those two points becomes a more crucial part of the journey.  The second kind of bridge crossing is more easily done walking rather than driving a car, taking a bus, or even riding a bike.  Slower speeds must equal a greater emphasis on that line.

It occurs to me that maybe the first kind of bridge crossing should not even be considered bridge crossing.  When people cross a bridge with a car or a bus, are they really bridge crossing, or is it their vehicle transporting them from one point to another?  Do they hear their feet hitting the pavement below?  Do they feel the raindrops and wind stinging their face?  Do they really see their surroundings without the window framing their view as the world passes in a blur?  The difference between bridge crossing and bridge crossing is in the experience of the moment.  Actually, it is a state of mind:

When I am in a hurry to get to work in the morning, even though I am walking, I am not really crossing the bridge...I am just trying to get to work.

At the mid-way point, the spitting turns into a light sprinkle.  I look over the railing to the river below.  The Mon is usually pretty muddy, but I find that this is even more the case today.  The water is rushing away from the bridge as if it is afraid that the structure spanning above its slightly flooded banks will suddenly collapse.  The bridge, however, is more solid in appearance at least, compared to the swirling mass of chaos happening underneath.  The poor bridge has to deal with the chaos from above and below.

The river had been calmly flowing in the weeks before: Now it seems to have snapped like a crazy person.  It has been holding back for a long time and is just now letting go.  All the snow melts and the rainfalls...the river is like nature giving up control.

It is a hard process: to let go.  The waters seem to dig their heels into the bottom of the riverbed in protest.  It makes everything cloudy.  I have to remind myself that the river will not always be running this fast and frantic and its path will not always be this unclear.  It is a cycle that nature goes through: the water rises and falls in its own time.

The chaos on top of the bridge seems to be a different matter altogether.  It is as if the disorder on top were a pale comparison to the disorder below.  A substitute, if you will.  We place our systems and rules and plans over top of the natural chaos in an effort to control and actually create a new kind of chaos.  Manufactured chaos.  The kind one sees at rush hour on any given highway in the United States.

I am almost to the end of the bridge.  Far below me near the bank, there are ducks swimming around haphazardly, looking a lot like bumper cars, but without the bumping.  It is pretty crazy how they are swimming in such random directions and yet are able to avoid collision.  I wish we had their sense of awareness.

The sprinkle is growing steadier as I descend the stairs from the bridge walkway.  My mind turns to schedules and coffee and nine to five matters.  I check my watch: 8:55.  I quicken my pace.

I see other people on their way to our huge renovated warehouse of an office building.  They come from all directions, pulled somewhat unwillingly towards the same point as if by some unseen magnetic beacon.  Most of their faces have the same blank look of Monday.

The rain is really starting to come down now.  I alight the stairs towards the employee entrance and seek cover from the rain.  I see a flash light up the sky and hear the subsequent crack of thunder.  I pause, hoping to at least watch the storm for a little longer, but someone is behind me, so I enter the building.

I remember so vividly these ten minutes of my day, while the rest often goes by in a forgotten blur...

Why can't my whole life be like crossing a bridge?
I feel guilty for posting this when I haven't even been on DA for awhile. Anyway, this was inspired by my morning walks to work and the style of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...which I am still in the process of reading.

UPDATE: This very bridge, the Birmingham bridge is sadly out of commission because of a sudden shift in the accidents occurred, but this will mean no on-foot bridge crossing to work for a while...I'll have to opt for the 2-wheeled bridge crossing over the Hot Metal bridge (the one pictured in the preview) instead. ;P
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LyraAlluse's avatar
That is a powerful piece of writing that you have there. Everything is so descriptive! It makes you feel like you are in the scene the whole time. The last phrase is what really pulls it together. "I wish my whole life was like a crossing-bridge." Wow. Good work here.
gimpPAC's avatar
Hey thanks for the great comment and the fav! :)
LyraAlluse's avatar
You are very welcome. XD
Neftoon-Zamora's avatar
Great write! Heh, you describe Pittsburgh so accurately too lol!
gimpPAC's avatar
Thanks much! I had to throw a little local flavor in there...but I didn't want to overdo.
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