Treasure Hunts and Full-Fleged Whimsy
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with Leah and Hailie
Last week we had our second batch of familiar faces here in New York -- Leah and her daughter Hailie from Bend, Oregon. Here's to my first trip across the Brooklyn Bridge!
Finger-like clouds reach down to greet the 227-foot arms of the Brooklyn Bridge as October pours the last of it’s cool sunshine over the city. To the west, Lady Liberty waves at us, and glass skyscrapers toss twinkling kisses our way.
The walking path that spans nearly sixteen-hundred feet across the East river is littered with runners sporting determined stares, mothers toting wide-eyed children, and over prepared tourists brandishing selfie sticks, black backpacks, and kit-kats.
Lovers walk close together, having less to do with the cold wind and more to do with the romantic arches that frame miles of lustrous cityscape and light dancing on the boat-dotted river.
Perhaps later, as the sun turns the scene a resilient orange, one of the cozy pairs will add another lock to the already heavy collections percolating along the bridge’s railing. They’ll click the padlock shut before tossing the key over the edge to the merfolk of the Hudson to keep as long as their love shall last.
Signatures, quotes, and stories cover the metal walls of the bridge, penned in paint, sharpie, and stickers like pages of a universal diary of the people who have trod there.
Stories live in the words. Dreams have come true in the victorious signatures that say “we made it here.” A high school soccer team from Germany, a cartoonist named Greg, and two teens with the aspiration of being “best friends forever” live in the shiny letters.
Even a batman band-aid plastered two feet high leaves behind the memory of a little boy who skinned his knee. He stood there overcome by the need to add a piece of himself to the thick sense of history that hangs over the bridge.
When we’d reached the other side, I looked back over the bridge and the buildings that stood behind it. I could see the Freedom Tower that stands three blocks from my apartment, and it hit me that I was standing in my own back yard.
Back home in Oregon, the cave that Hailie and I used to play in as children was the same distance from my house as I was standing right then from my apartment. The millions of sagebrush bushes that used to stretch from where I used to play to my house were now replaced by millions of people and hundreds of buildings — but it didn’t feel any less familiar to me.
I used to spend my days darting about the woods at home. I would explore every tree and rock until the sun slid down over the mountain.
Here I feel the same way. Only instead of hunting for “fairies” and “buried treasure” the way I did as a child, I now delight in the stories of the people, the artwork in the shadowed alleyways, the plants growing up out of the cracks in the concrete. I miss the smell of sagebrush and the feel of the rocks on my hands, but here, each day is a grand new escapade in search of the city’s treasure.
In search of lover's locks and batman bandaids and full-fledged whimsy.