Posted by: normanlgreen | February 11, 2012

Dream, February 10, 2012 footbridge to frustration


Dream, home, 6:50 am

A gently curving bridge spans a narrow river. Tourists park on the Northeast end so they can walk across it. Prerecorded voices warn over speakers that it is a dicey neighborhood on the other end, so if guests have no particular place to go once they have crossed, they are to return to the safe side.

My father has asked a group of us to gather so we can watch a movie at a theatre on the far side of the foot bridge. I don’t know whether the movie is an excuse to cross the bridge, or the bridge crossing is just a means for him to get us to the show.

A reception building, little more than a lobby for the bridge and theatre, stands at the parking lot. The people of our group gradually get themselves organized. I am concerned that we leave in time to see the beginning of the film. My father is antsy, waiting with tickets for all of us – a package price for both bridge and movie. He paces below a large faced clock – hands but no numbers. I see that it is twenty ’til four and ask a woman in our party what time the show will start. She smiles and with mock patience explains that we have another forty minutes. I convince her that we should go now, so we will have time for a leisurely crossing. To my left, an auditorium with raked seating is full of people. I sense that the woman does not want me to disturb them, so she agrees.

We leave the lobby, with its fifteen foot ceiling and indirect lighting, for the outdoors. It is a semi-clear day, with the sun starting to get low in the sky. The sun and cloud mix colors the light a warm rose. It feels like late Spring with the grass near the river lush and green. Willow trees with stout trunks crowd our river bank. I look across the span of the bridge and see an open, grassy park on the far side – it does not look threatening and seems unoccupied.

The bridge starts at our end with a very steep climb – it would be inappropriate for any vehicle if only for this reason. Though the river is less than fifty yards across, the bridge slopes up quickly to a peak height of a two-story building. It is taller than the reception building where we bought tickets. Despite the sharp incline, it is easy to climb, though the foot path has to give space to a pipeline. I come to understand that the structure was built for the eight inch pipes, and the foot traffic was an afterthought. The soft voice of the audio tour guide purrs from speakers embedded in the low sides of the bridge. We are told the nicknames of a set of three valves that branch off to our right. We have to step over the heavy gauge valves. I bump one of the wheel-shaped handles and find it is loose – hope I haven’t taken something out of critical adjustment – try to replace it into the original position. The cluster of pipes dominates the foot path. Some pipes have to be stepped over, while other must be squeezed under.

At last I come to the apex of the structure. I stand up straight, despite the absence of hand rails. I look to the Northwest and the green and sunny park at the dicey end. The camera has been forgotten at the car, so I am unable to take pictures – this was supposed to be my responsibility, but I have failed. No one else seems overly concerned.

At the Northwest end, many people turn around and cross back – given the narrow path, I wonder how they will handle right-of-way issues with those crossing in the first direction. Our group moves out of the park and into the theatre.

The lobby is filled with a grid of posts that rise to shoulder height. On top of each post is what appears to be a parking meter. Each meter has a screen on each of its two faces. On these tiny screens, we are either to see previews of the films that are showing in the various auditoriums, or we are to watch the entire film. This is unclear. I drop a coin into one of the meter boxes, but the screen remains dead. I bring this to the attention of a disinterested worker. He shrugs-off my concern. I step up to another meter and find it already running a film. The screen is so dim that I can hardly see any detail amongst the movement –even in the low light of lobby. The tinny soundtrack pulses from a speaker the size of a nickel.

I suspect that a malevolent force will chase our party back to the center of the arched bridge — once we are off shore, the bridge will pivot at its center — so arranged to allow the tallest of river traffic — and we will be trapped.

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