Posted by: jevcat | March 8, 2011

A Bridge to Spring

Spring’s not-too-distant arrival is beginning to be detectable on good days, and for some reason that has stirred up thoughts of springs past.  Spring almost begs for at least a modicum of foolishness, especially in the young – and some of us will probably be more prone to it than others, no matter how old we get.  Here’s one episode I will never live down and hope not to repeat:

I grew up in northern Manhattan, about a mile south of the George Washington Bridge that connects the upper part of the island to the New Jersey mainland.  The bridge is about a mile long, and, as children, my best friend and I were introduced to its pedestrian walkway – and the wonderful views up and down the Hudson River from the span – by her father (who just turned 90!)

Our final year in high school, the last class for most seniors ended at 12:30, leaving us free, at least in theory, for jobs, studying, and other constructive pursuits.  In fact, many of us just enjoyed the freedom of unstructured time.  City transportation being so good, I had my choice of routes home from the small Lutheran school in the Bronx that my Beloved and I attended, and some of them went past the bridge.  Often, after school I would, with my Beloved or alone, walk up to the bridge and across into Fort Lee, then back home.  We have some wonderful, romantic memories of bridge walks and the state park on the other side, he and I.

One fine spring day, when the air was soft and the breeze warm, I was soloing, and so taken by the wonder of the day and the experience of Nature that I threw out my arms and closed my eyes as I walked, the better to savor the experience.  The thrill of it filled my soul, and I found myself walking faster and faster arms flung wide to embrace the season and life.  And, very shortly, walked smack into one of the cables, nearly rendering myself unconscious, given my rate of progress.  Slightly dazed, I shook my head a few times, gingerly touching the area between my left eyebrow and nose.  The area above my eye was already swelling.

There not being much other choice, I continued walking.  Once in Fort Lee, I was able to look at myself in store windows’ reflection and see that I had what looked like half a red Easter egg glued to my forehead.  Instead of walking back as I usually did, I caught the bus back into Manhattan.  Discretion being the better part of valor, from the uptown Port Authority terminal where the bus left me, I made a pre-emptive phone call to my mother to prepare her for what she would see.  It did not entirely work in fending of maternal hysteria.  Of course, one of the things she wanted to know was whether the experience had been, shall we say, chemically enhanced, which it hadn’t.  I think I said something about being high on life and, maternal duty having been satisfied, more or less, on that point, I think she believed me.

I wound up wearing sun glasses for the rest of the week to shield my very black left and slightly black right eye, especially since, as the bruise drained, carrying more color under my eyes, the area affected grew larger as it gradually shaded through the spectrum from purple to green to a bilious yellow.  One of our friends, surveying the damage one afternoon that week, observed, “If I were you, I’d say I was high.”  I protested, “But I wasn’t!”, to which she, with the very precise air of a primary school teacher explaining something to a particularly dim second-grader, replied, “I know.  But if I were you, I would SAY I was.”

May our appreciation of the coming spring leave none of us bruised this year.


  1. Lovely! What a beautiful picture, and a wonderful tribute to Spring.
    I can recall laying on my back in the grass with friends, as we all gazed up at the sky, and dissolved clouds.

    • Yup. I did some of that, too. Your image, though, makes me think of Charlie Brown and his friends engaged in that pursuit, each telling what they see in the clouds, with one picture more complicated than the next until they get to him, and he says, “I was going to say a ducky and a horsey, but I think I changed my mind.” I miss Charles Schulz.

  2. Hope Springs…boing!!!

  3. I had to ask an old friend of yours if it was possible to walk off the bridge! Just imagine the euphoria of flying with your eye swelling and seeing the quickly approaching surface! I’m glad you survived your springtime ordeal; I would have used the drug excuse myself! LOL!

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