Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bridge Of Sighs

I thought about the poetry of these bridges. The old and the new coming together just beyond the gate that told me I had made it half way. I could have run on into San Francisco if the path didn't end at Yerba Buena Island. At least that's what I told myself.
When I started, I looked up at the fog burning off an early spring morning. In my mind, I tried to picture the span, but it came out like a postcard. The reality of putting one foot in front of another for nearly eight miles gave me pause. The reality was I didn't know the distance until I came home and looked it up. I had something to prove.
I wanted to be able to push myself a little further than I had for the past few years. I wanted to see if I could still keep up with my wild notions of exercise, so I ran out under the overpasses, past the sewage treatment plant, and onto the bridge.
I was running into a little breeze, but the playlist of Rush songs that had serendipitously popped up on my iPod kept me chugging along. As I made my way west, I watched the little group of men on the Old Bay Bridge across the way, preparing to retire the rusted old hulk, piece by piece. The Skeleton Crew. At the top of a crane, teetering precipitously, was a lone hard hat moving along a girder that would be scrap soon. I tried to imagine the plan for dismantling such a beast. There were still speed limit signs and street lights attached to the upper deck. I wondered if there wasn't some hush-hush contingency plan for keeping the old one for a spare, just in case the new one didn't turn out to be so wonderful after all. The bridge I was on.
It wasn't until I turned around and faced the hills of Oakland again that it occurred to me that I was hundreds of feet above the bay, and any kind of catastrophic failure would be just that for yours truly. I considered once again the challenge I was giving myself. I wasn't walking on water. I was running above it. High above it.
The other runners and bikers and strollers I met along the way seemed just as immersed in their morning's exertion. I have them all the cursory head bob, and mouthed "morning" to them as they passed, not wanting to share the thoughts or sounds in my head aloud: Geddy Lee, government conspiracies, my youth.
When I made it back to dry land, the IKEA parking lot, I felt that I had accomplished something. I didn't build a bridge, but I experienced one. The span between the old and the new. Those ten mile runs that used to come so naturally in my twenties that have now been reduced to three and four mile maintenance jogs around my neighborhood. Poetry. 

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