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In Honor of a Campus Landmark, an Ode to the Bridge (On its 10th Birthday, April 26)

by Indy Srinath, staff writer

The bridge turns 10. Photo by Wyatt Pace

The bridge turns 10. Photo by Wyatt Pace

At night, I watch the spiders orbiting beneath their finished webs. The soft yellow glow of my lamps forces their opalescent homes to shine, casting prisms of light against the black depth of night. The cars that cut through the slowly warming navy air push a perpendicular wind against my underside. These cars that dive into the night, outside of the valley where I only remember from my days as raw timber, steel, and glass.

I can’t help but tremble, under your pounding feet, when you run barefoot to greet the view. Alone at night, you traverse my torso and I watch your kaleidoscope eyes become married to the panoramic distance when you stop, halfway across my body. And you say,

“These fucking mountains.”

Before you finish your journey, baptized by the beauty of the Swannanoa fog, I see you becoming reborn as you acknowledge the intensity of being suspended above the earth. I see you share, for a moment, the simplicity of my existence.

And when the night packs her bags and heads careening down the horizon to make way for the rising of another Eastbound sun, you carry your backpack by one strap, over one slumped shoulder, and there’s a mason jar full of coffee in your hand. You squint across the tops of the trees (a view reserved for epiphytes, birds, and squirrels) while you recall last night’s dreams before they are carried away by the reality of the day. You run your fingers along my rusted steel ribs.

By day, I know you are a socialite. Smiling and waving to your friends that you eagerly (or maybe begrudgingly…) cross my torso to meet. I see you every time you admire the sticker with your tag in black sharpie that you put on my lamp last year while you were shrouded in a cloak of night stained with liquid courage. Your skateboard rattles every time it dips into gaps between my boards, sending your imminent arrival echoing into the trees. You rush to class. To meet him by four. To see her after lunch. To make it to practice, to the chapel, to Dogwood, to your room.

And then there are those times when you shuffle across me, quickly, head down. With the awkward gait of a nine-year-old boy with a rolling backpack and a Capri Sun stain awkwardly positioned on the crotch of his pants. Pretending to be preoccupied with a thought, a view, your left shoelace, so that you don’t have to make eye contact with the person coming toward you. The one you kind of know from class. The one that you talked to once at Sage Circle. The person whose name you know but they can never seem to remember yours, or vice versa. Either way you are missing the point. I am a bridge. Don’t you see? I am here to link the earth to the earth. This side of campus to that side of campus. This much you know.

What you don’t know is this: I need you to be a bridge too. To link man to man, woman to woman, dog to outstretched, petting hands. You have to be a bridge because I am just a permanent fixture, and you are not. I will always bridge this side of campus to the next, but what will you bridge? Your community to your neighbors? Your culture with your best friend’s? Will you bridge the space between the underprivileged and elite? I know you want to. I see the fliers you put up on the bulletin boards (thank you for not posting them on me) about the potlucks, the skill shares, and the punk shows, and I can see that you want this too. For the world to be connected by the things that bring us together, to combat everything that divides us. To construct the bridge that exists because of the human condition. Because you can relate to everything and everyone…

I’ve been a bridge for ten years now, and I’m telling you it’s working. Every time you cross me, I feel the gap growing smaller between the ‘us’ and the ‘them’. In another ten years, I will still be a bridge. People will still try to leapfrog over the short yellow pole that guards my entrance (unless you are one of the people who miscalculated the height, thus jumping a little too low…), people will still drop things over my rails, throw banners over my sides, and drunkenly stumble across me as they make their way through the night.

I guess, when it comes down to it, I’m just a bridge so the only advice I can offer is this: the easiest way to move through life is by going over. Go over your notes before class. Get over your cold before you party. Go over your student ID number in your head until it is memorized. Go over, under, over, under until your pants are mended with thread. Go over to your friend’s dorm before she is gone. Go over all the parts of life that are thorny, or hard, or prickly. Just keeping going over and over and over, and one day you will be like a bridge, not confined to one side, but hanging suspended, over and above everything and when that happens, come find me (you know where I’ll be). And, balanced above a world spinning into the blinding future, we’ll watch the view together, from the bridge.


One Response to “In Honor of a Campus Landmark, an Ode to the Bridge (On its 10th Birthday, April 26)”

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