I was always grateful for the bridge; it was a beautiful sight on an otherwise winding two-lane back country road. A nice one, with fields and cows and bluebonnets in the spring; trees and old fences; familiar curves and driveways. But to be riding along and come to an amazing span over a docile river 30 feet below, its banks lined thick with huge cypress trees hundreds of years old and dotted with homes looking down into them from the banks… to pass over this on the way into town was a treat every time. A litmus test as well – if one can’t be momentarily moved by such a thing, that’s indicative of something needing fixing or adjustment, a rural drive “smell the roses” parallel and one of the things I fell in love with about this place 25 years ago.
So much changed with that first flood last year; in one dark night, the banks were stripped and the bridge was gone. An angry river leaves strange scenes of very narrow destruction in its wake. A little ways up past one bank or the other and everything looked fine. I have a veteran friend who described combat as “A foot to the left you’re meat, a foot to the right you’re powder.” That was our town that night; one foot too close and your little world was powder - and that line kept moving until dawn. Amidst such human tragedy and hardship, it was difficult to mourn the bridge. It was just a bridge and could be rebuilt and replaced… other things cannot ever be rebuilt or replaced, or reconciled in a mind. Can never be unknown; cannot be unseen. It was, however, suddenly a genuine pain in the ass to get into town from the nest, even after the back ways were cleaned up and reopened. One is never more on “…the other side of the river” than after that river takes out everything in its path.
In one of the most incredible, focused, efficient displays of what officials and departments we elect and pay for should be able to accomplish but rarely actually do… and despite one or two ever-present individual dickheads trying to milk the moment while a whole slice of the county is still held up put out and cut off from fire, EMS, etc., THE BRIDGE IS BACK! Way ahead of schedule too. In my years, I’ve never seen anything like it. The folks in charge decided a temporary bridge would take too long and cost too much, so let’s just get started on the real thing and get it done. And boy did they. My friend Thomas once told me, “If a guy does half what he says he’s gonna do, that’s 2/3rds more than I expected from him in the first place.” It’s so nice to be treated like we matter, like our concerns were heard, and we were given 110%. An awesome job well done to all involved in making it happen!
I drove over it the first morning it was open this week (one lane) and waved thank yous to all the workers, exchanging thumbs ups and smiling nods. Bridges connect us in ways we need to be connected – which you find out at some points are deeper and more important than what can take them down. Those things scar but they pass. And we’re here together until death do us part.
(I WOULD ALSO like to take this opportunity to share a Facebook post I put up on the 24th honoring my stepfather’s memory on his birthday – he passed in 2007)
Jay Alexander was a good man, less than understood but more than he appeared. I understand him more every year, though he is long passed. He turned me on to jazz and tinkering; the magic of being alone in a workshop; '50s rock and roll and fixing broken things. He could at least workably fix anything; mopeds, snow blowers, cars past their prime. He loved sports cars but for a brief time he owned a dark green Roadrunner... my favorite of his long line of vehicles. So I sit this evening, his birthday, and salute a man crucial to my becoming who I am now - in a way living his ideal life, in many ways happier than he was... listening to Dave Brubeck, thinking about my own dark green Roadrunner coming together, after a day of perfect solitude making my living with my hands, building things. I'm sorry he wasn't able to stay longer and see more, but I'm honored to carry the best of him forward with me every step onward - and thank him greatly for that gift.
Listening to: Dave Brubeck, Muddy Waters, Mingus - Ah Um, Bowie – Station To Station (Earl Slick rocks), Sonny Rollins, Jerry Garcia – Garcia, Keith Richards – "Life" (audiobook) and some COOL music sent to me by clients!