When I wander into Memory Town, I usually get stuck at the bridge. I used to have a bit of a phobia about bridges – I hated driving across them. My too vivid imagination could see me steering the car through those inadequate guardrails to plunge down into the water below. There are a number of phrases about bridges.
“Don’t burn your bridges.” Huh, does that mean I can go back over the bridge if I don’t like what I find on the other side? Okay, I know it means watch what you say (or do) because you can’t take it back and the other person might shut you out of their life.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” Put off the bad until we’re ready for it or can’t avoid it any longer? I’d like to cross it now and get the agony over with, thanks.
“It’s water under the bridge.” Meaning let the Past go, move on, etc. Ah, but this one, this is the one that gets me stuck. I climb down and have to look under the bridge.
In real and memory terms, the water under a bridge is always dark, murky, full of debris and dangerous currents. Ugly things live under there, lurking, waiting, ready to snatch at the unwary observer. Stuff that should be dead and gone get caught in whirlpools swirling around the pylons of the bridge. Garbage that sank to the bottom reaches twisted limbs up to grab a swimmer’s ankles and pull the victim down into the mud. An undertow can pull you to the center and suck you down, trapped in the dark shadows beneath the bridge. You can drown under the bridge, fighting to scramble back to the bright and clear waters on each side where you can see everyone else enjoying the sun sparkling on the river.
I’d like to join them, I try to stay with them, but the dark mess under the bridge still needs clearing out. I keep hoping if I push the crap around, the murk will flow away and I’ll be free. It’s a big job and no one out there in the sunshine wants to help me. They don’t want to hear about what’s hidden under the bridge; they believe I should just leave it alone and walk away. A few friends have tried to help, but I don’t want them trapped under there with me, so I gently push them away. Somehow, I think my beloved will be strong enough to help without getting caught, but he won’t go anywhere near the bridge. They all want me to forget, move on, walk away, and never, ever speak of what’s under there.
But I can’t because the water under the bridge is flowing through me every day. I live there every moment, unable to break free. How can I escape when no one wants to hear my shout for help? When no one will listen as I try to clear the mess out? They have tried, for about five minutes, just as I’m starting to reveal the darkest debris. They wave it off, send up a platitude or two, and scurry back out into the sunshine, leaving me to drown.
I thought Love would be the thrown life preserver…but that’s no life saver, that was just another trap… Someday, I’ll write my way clear, someday, when it’s all on paper, in print, they might read it. Someday…I’ll just swim away.