Love and Bridges

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02/01/2005

1 grand st brooklyn ny 11211

Neighborhood: Across the River, Brooklyn

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Allie once told me that if two people meet on a bridge, they will almost always fall in love.

"I read it in my psychology textbook," she said. "They have to meet on a bridge."

I glanced across the river at the orange lights of the Williamsburg Bridge and imagined myself flagging down the next available bike messenger as he flew over the arc of the pedestrian overpass. I imagined myself crouching in the shadows, lying in wait. Allie rummaged through her bag and withdrew a flashlight and a spiral-bound notebook. She flicked on the light and flipped the book open to a dog-eared page.

"If two people meet on a bridge they will almost always fall in love," she read aloud. "It's a reaction against chaos. The bridge is perceived by the body to be a threat to one's safety. We understand logically that we're safe, but the primal parts of us don't. We're unstable, so we grasp for stability. The grasp is falling and the stability is love."

"I can't picture myself meeting anyone but muggers on the bridge right now," I said. It was two-thirty in the morning on a Tuesday night. The smell of salt water, seaweed, and sewage rose and fell with the breeze that lifted off of the East River and scattered the garbage that littered the park.»

"I'm not talking about bridges," Allie said.

I looked at her like she was crazy.

"I'm talking about when Lucy hitchhiked across the country and fell in love in New Orleans."

Our friend Lucy left college halfway through her sophomore year to take to the streets and like Kerouac, type - not write - the Great American Novel. Her original plans were to go Los Angeles, then up the west coast and back, but she fell in love with an accordion player named Dallas as soon as she hit the Big Easy. Lucy's letters described the heat and his hair and I figured it must have had something to do with the humidity and the rum and the damp, swampy air that snags some people in their lower latitudes and ropes them into staying. According to Allie, it had nothing to do with the air or his hair or his accordion or steel-stringed guitar. Lucy's luck in love had everything to do with a bridge.

"Not the Williamsburg Bridge," Allie groaned, rolling her eyes. "Lucy was on a bridge. I was speaking metaphorically."

She shoved the flashlight under her chin and made a horrible face, then grinned and flicked off the light.

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