Friday, October 1, 2010

The Deja Vu Memorial Bridge

If you’ve ever driven I-95 in northern Maryland, chances are you’ve crossed the Millard E Tydings Bridge, which spans the Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace. As a kid, we must have gone over this bridge every year on family vacations, but I saw it differently the first time I drove it alone. For one thing, I never noticed the sign warning motorists of “Dangerous Crosswinds.” Great, I thought, I’m going to blow off the bridge. I then white-knuckled it all the way across.

It’s a beautiful view, traversing from one rocky bluff to the other.

(photo found on Flickr by Tpal3)

That first time driving it alone I was on my way from New Jersey to northern Virginia, on a weekend trip to visit my brother. It was the first real road trip I’d taken by myself, and while it was only a 4-hour drive, it was something special for me to do. Something about crossing state lines on your own feels grown up.

As I approached the bridge heading south, Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” came on the radio. Having just read the road sign about the deadly crosswinds, the lyric “fly away…high away…bye bye…” didn’t ease my nerves. Neither did the one about “walking head-on into the deep end of the river.” But somehow I made it across, and was even able to catch a few glimpses of the changing fall foliage on that October morning.

I might not have remembered what song was playing had it not been for a strange coincidence. Two days later on my return trip, the same song played on the radio as I drove northbound on the very same bridge. I was sad to be leaving my brother’s place after a really fun weekend, and the melancholy tune was fitting. It served as the opening and closing acts to the weekend.

I usually have a fleeting thought of that bridge whenever I hear that song. But two mornings ago I heard it on the way to work and I thought about it a little longer. Today is the beginning of October, almost the same time as the day I took that trip 19 years ago. While it doesn’t feel like fall yet here, the sky and sun look like fall. It was grey that morning, making me yearn for cooler weather. I found myself wishing there was a bridge nearby that I could drive across.

(photo found on Flickr by Karol A Olson)

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