While flipping through a scrapbook I made after a trip to the UK in 2009, my friend commented, “You take a lot of pictures of bridges.”
She said it casually but her comment stayed with me. It’s like someone drawing your attention to a phrase you always say that you weren’t aware of before, and now that you are, you’re almost paranoid to use it in any subsequent speech.
I looked through my scrapbook again. She was right. Bridges were everywhere.
Why do I love bridges so much? I love their silhouette against the night sky, their shape on a city skyline. I love what they represent, their liminality – neither here nor there. In between. Connecting places, connecting people. Crossing what was previously uncrossable.
I love how I feel when I walk and drive over them – a little bit nervous, like the good kind of nerves you get before you’re about to go on a roller coaster and you know it’lll be fun and you’ll love it, but you’re not there yet so you’re still nervous. Caught in a middle space. I love how the very act of crossing a bridge changes you, how walking across time and space makes you different somehow when you reach the other side.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves bridges. On Global news a month or two ago, Mike McCardell did his human interest feature like he always does at the end of the news hour (my favourite part), where he interviewed a young couple in Surrey who spent their summer evenings watching the new Port Mann Bridge get built from the deck of their home. In fact, I think the man said he built the deck just so he and his wife could have front-row seating to view the graceful white cables of this bridge stretch out over the Fraser River, supporting what will be a 10-lane bridge, 65 m wide – the widest in the world.
The couple said watching the bridge after they came home from work was how they liked to unwind. When asked why, they said it was peaceful. No irritating construction sounds from their idyllic spot in the distance. And the view changed each night before their eyes, like their own home theatre – the landscape their screen. Movies aren’t the only things that move you.
If this couple felt moved just by looking at the bridge, imagine what you feel when you drive over it. A little bit like reaching for heaven.