There is no freedom like under a bridge, especially one that is near a vast and famous flow of water. I have found throughout the years, that I—myself, love sitting next to the Mississippi river on abandoned train bridges, while enjoying conversation, natural beauty, midday summer sun, and a drink.
It’s a place where the rusted bolts and flaking metal panes hold paint as a fading canvass; new works by modern graffiti artists appear over the old, just overnight—as this this cryptic conversation take place, and make way for day. We see love drawn in deep red, contrasted with black, and a “this bridge doe…” in eggshell white, stuck yet dripping. The young night owls, I assume, come out in the depths of twilight darkness and etch their scrawl, bomb a span with shaken cans, and then leave on routed paths.
Sitting on damp uneven, yet smooth, stained stone in the cool shade can take you away while keeping you in one spot. The river flows on below with its flotsam, its debris, its speed—plastic and glass and trash; or wood, and leaves—unknown items that splash. What the vein carries and brings to one’s eyes only adds that much more to sight, now burned in your mind. That entity is part of me; I am also mostly water. How drenched seems the connection.
A person sitting under the massive cotton wood trees on those old fixed block steps can see thick power lines carrying their light, their energy, your computer screen—all of it happens on these bending wires which sway in the gusts of wind. You sit below, ice cold can from a canvass bag—in the middle of a Monday—and imagine those stuck inside, working. What more is there to it, to life? You get time and you should have it.
Under that bridge, hidden from crowds or peering eyes people can converse, explain, a place to feel relaxed and unmolested. Whole worlds can be discussed and dissolved over the time that others call lunch. Pedestrians would walk rustling rock and sand over head on an ill-placed square of plywood, on creosote covered lumber cut a lifetime ago, pretending to jump: look out below!—sticky, what protectant, what adhesive, what remnants on these planks.
Eyes would gleam down, those doing what society may deem illicit: a man smoked a rolled cigarette above, people skipped rocks loudly, others broke bottles (unfortunate); all with nothing to do, free, doing something—any other Monday away. And, here, the best kind of gatherings are ones without evidence—just relatable to recount, unobtrusive, nothing left that wasn’t there before found. Humans are mammals, not litter bugs. Free of that shit, clearing it back to Roanoke.
And the sun chased the edge of the old darkened bridge where angled lengths stuck out cutting a jagged grooved shadow on the spiraling brown currents below. There were cheap seats for a small afternoon audience to take, but only if they wanted to—privy. This motion picture had nature, had dialogue, had beverages, smokes, and snacks, had a national institution going below, churning, and a constant sky above, open, blue, and probably tomorrow’s reflection staring back. There was no freedom like this, nothing like lazing under a bridge.