Thursday, August 2, 2007

Never Tell Me the Odds

Once again, the reality of life is interfering with my urge to face all situations with maximum flippancy.

(http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070802/ts_nm/bridge_collapse_dc)

My first year of college, I had moved from a Minnesota town that didn't even have a grain elevator, where everything was small and close to the ground. I lived in Mpls at the end of the Washington Ave. bridge (or the Berryman bridge, as I've always called it). I'd go up at night to the balcony of the dorm's top-floor study room, just looking at the bridge and the tall buildings behind it. I couldn't believe I actually lived there, and it was really exciting. On the other hand, it all seemed really unstable to me, like the whole world was held together by faith.

One night some girls and I took a walk after dark, and we ended up underneath the Washington Ave bridge, where there was a big swathe of dirt slanting toward the high Mississippi river bank. It smelled both green and musty, almost rusty. I walked over toward the edge and looked down at the river, feeling totally secure with my feet on the ground. The girls from the dorm got nervous about it, and were like, "Don't heights bother you?" And I told them not at all.

What made me nervous was the bridge over us. We could hear the cars going across it, disembodied sounds, and I was too aware of the big heavy structure, enormous, just over our heads. They thought that was funny,as if it was obvious that falling was something that could happen, but it's not like the bridge was going to collapse. That was a ridiculous idea.

But to me it was the exact opposite. I had some control over whether I fell, but if the bridge collapsed, we'd be helpless. And of course, there are earthquakes, and the ground can just open up in front of you...but the manmade falls apart a lot more often. In a way, I'm always expecting everything to fall apart, and I'm surprised when it doesn't. Just brazening through life, disregarding the risks.

Anyway, the latest news report has lowered the death toll, which would be good news, except for the families and friends of the people who are still dead. This is exactly why every day is Hug Your Kitty Close Day at my house...

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