I haven’t been over a big bridge in 42 days. But who’s counting. I usually don’t but I was curious. I was deleting photos and saw the ones I’d taken of the Throgs Neck Bridge. I wasn’t driving of course. My husband was. I looked hard at the photos to figure out in detail what it is exactly that I don’t like about bridges. Enough with my vague “I’m afraid to cross bridges” mantra. It’s starting to sound lame and generic even to me.
We approached the Throgs Neck Bridge from the east on the fast-moving Cross Island Parkway, to the right is Little Neck Bay and a short way across is the affluent Great Neck and at the tip of the peninsula is the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. In the summer sailboats fill the bay. Even in the drab month of March, the view is magnificent and if you haven’t seen it, it’s far more beautiful than you’d expect to find 8 miles from LaGuardia Airport.
The Cross Island Parkway then curves left at Fort Totten Park on the right. It’s just after the park exit through the bare trees and over the crumpled metal guardrails, the Throgs Neck Bridge appears.
I watched the short parade of tractor trailer trucks on the left in the photo travelling uphill to the bridge’s apex. The view alone starts something to smolder deep in my gut. I know I will be on that same spot of road, yet my brain can’t understand how that’s possible.
From here, the thin roadway looks like a palm frond, flexible and able to sway in the breeze. The cables seem to drape from the towers reminding me of chains holding up a light fixture the kind that when you bump your head swings freely. The structure looks weak to me even though I know it’s made of steel and cement and anchored deeply by pilings and towers.
The view changes just before exiting the Parkway and making the quick entrance and merge onto the bridge.
The pilings, with the road barely touching them, looks like the backside and tail of a dinosaur skeleton I’ve seen at the Museum of Natural History. “Throggy” (perhaps a pet name will make the bridge cute and approachable like “Barney” the big, huggable, purple dinosaur) looks like it could swiftly lift its tail and slap the East River.
The look of the bridge makes me feel insecure, flighty, ungrounded, unsafe, wispy, in the wind, dangling, and loose. I feel there’s something unpredictable about traveling across a bridge. Maybe that’s the crux of my fear? That’s something new I hadn’t considered. Unlike Barney’s theme song, I wasn’t feeling any love from the bridge and I certainly wasn’t loving it.
The words for how I felt that day ON THE BRIDGE don’t come to me now. Maybe too much time has lapsed or maybe I’m getting good at hiding from the feelings. That’s ok, I’ll be crossing some bridges in 22 days. But who’s counting…