Going over the bridge to South Philly as a kid, I worried it would collapse. I had no reason for the fear, it was just there. The sports stadiums stood to the left, and the Navy Yard sprawled to our right. My father had the window down and the cool air blew against my face, as well as the cigarette smoke.
That was when I first started to memorize Aerosmith lyrics, the words from my father’s favorite band.
Years later, in a dingy newspaper office in South Jersey, my worst fear came true: A bridge in the Midwest did collapse.
The media spent the next week calling state and local officials to make sure more bridges weren’t in danger of giving way. The reporter I most admired, Leo, thought the exercise was futile, and I agreed.
I’ve dreamed about it, too.
In those nightmares, I’m driving along a road near a body of water, and my car crashes through the barriers and I go nose-diving into the river. In the dreams, I escape somehow. But I’ll wake up, feeling perturbed, and I can taste the salt water, thinking I narrowly avoided death.
I remember my grandmother dismissing my fear of bridges – not in a mean way, just in a way that showed she didn’t understand. Crossing over the bridge was the only way to get to her house, so it was something I learned to deal with.
So, I sat snugly in the backseat of my father’s rusted Chevy Blazer and, as best as I could, told myself that, no, this bridge will not collapse and, no, your fears will not come to fruition.