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Friday, May 6, 2011

High Rise

A friend of mine-- actually, a "Friend" of mine-- posted a picture on Facebook of her driving over a rather substantial-looking, architecturally intriguing bridge. Actually, she probably wasn't driving, or maybe she was, and her passenger was taking the photograph. I like to think that anybody with whom I'm "Friends" on Facebook isn't stupid enough to drive over a large body of water whilst taking a picture of themselves doing so.

At any rate, viewing this picture made me think about bridges-- which is as good a thing as any to think about if you're not thinking about sex or food, or are trying to convince yourself that it's probably time you gave thinking about sex or food a bit of a break. For the time being.

So, bridges... Where were we?

The first bridge I can ever remember going over is located approximately three miles from my house. It's not much of a bridge, really. It doesn't go over any body of water, and it doesn't even elevate traffic over a perpendicular street below. As far as I know, what's below is basically a long-ago closed off road and a lot of overgrown scrub-brush. Truthfully, I don't know what the hell's underneath it. The more that I think about it, actually-- maybe it's railroad tracks for the local line. I don't know. Anyway, what's underneath isn't finally the point. What I remember is that going over this bridge in my father's Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera or the Buick Century or whatever piece of shit it was at the time, was that I thought going over that bridge was the coolest fucking thing in the world.

If my entire family was in the car, as we often were in those days, and conversation was loud and engaging, if we were approaching that little bridge, I would immediately shout, over the din,


In those days, I wielded a lot of power compared to my curb weight, and everybody in the car always complied. If they didn't, I had my mother and father for back-up, but their intervention was never necessary. Everybody would shut the fuck up respectfully as we drove over the bridge. I loved the sensation of going up, not in a risky way, for I knew it wasn't very high and all the tires were staying on the street surface, but because there was grating underneath the tires when you reached the apex of the bridge, the noise underneath the car changed to a sort of soothing, buzzing sound that I was absolutely in love with.

I have no idea why I called it a "high-rise." It wasn't anything of the kind. It wasn't very high, and it didn't rise, either, like I suppose a draw-bridge does. I had never seen a draw-bridge, though-- not in person anyway-- so there's no reason to think that I thought it was, or could have been, a draw-bridge. But, for years I was fascinated with that bridge.

"HIGH-RISE! HIGH-RISE!" I would cry. High-rise.

Kids go fucking bananas about the craziest shit, and nobody knows why. If anybody'd bothered to ask me, back then, what got me so jazzed about that rinky-dink, shitty little bridge, I have no idea what I would have said in response. "I just like it," is probably the likeliest answer, but that would have clearly left the questioner wanting more. The truth is, there's probably no good reason why I loved that bridge so much, and the noise the car made as it drove over it. No good reason at all. But it stuck, to a degree. Years later, when I would drive myself to high school at some unchristly hour in the pre-dawn morning, I would go out of my way to take the route that would take me over that bridge, and I would smile as I drove over it, noting the changing sounds emanating from beneath my tires.


I was fifteen when my middle sister went to U-Mass. My father rented a van and we all drove her up there. He took the Tappan Zee bridge and I almost sharted myself with fear. This was no fucking high-rise. This was a real goddamned bridge, and it seemed to go on forever, and what was much worse was how close it seemed to be to the water below. I suppose, logically, driving on a bridge that is much higher up ought to be scarier, because, were you to veer off it, you'd have that long, terrifying plunge downward to your certain death, but logic doesn't often go dancing with fear. And logic certainly has less to do with a bridge than fear does, unless you're building one.

When I experience bridges now, I'm still filled with a sense of awe and fear, and often dread, too, because, when you reach the end of most of the more substantial ones, there's usually a toll to be paid. You can still cruise the old high-rise by my house for nothing, though. But you have to be quiet if I'm in the car with you.

Them's the rules.

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