Thursday, October 04, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge, a short history

The other night as I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, I thought a bit about our history together.

1. Butterflies: An ex-boyfriend and I, early in our relationship when things were breathless and full of potential, stopped at Bahn Mi So 1, and then walked together over the bridge, stopping in the middle to sit on a bench and eat the sandwiches and try not to get pork pate stuck in our teeth. Do they still have benches in the middle of the bridge? Hmmm...not sure they do.

2. Bad date: Once I made a second date with someone to meet in the middle of the bridge (I have to hope and assume this was before the "Sex and the City" movie). I caught sight of him, awkward and sweaty and as I headed towards him I thought, woefully, "oh noooo, this is never going to work."

3. Engagement: My dear friends Amy and Vic got engaged on the Brooklyn Bridge. I won't tell this story (it's theirs, and they are masterful storytellers) but suffice to say it is a story that is both hilarious and a tearjerker, all at the same time. n.b. it was 100 degrees that day.

4. Transit strike: When the MTA went on strike in late 2005 I had plenty of opportunities to walk the bridge in a short amount of time. In December. I remember cruising across one morning trying to get to the school I was teaching at on the Upper East Side (I made it!) and then that evening, heading back across and finding Marty Markowitz in his overcoat and scarf, using a bullhorn to let us all know that "there are bathrooms and hot apple cider at Borough Hall!"

5. Boot camp: My sister-in-law brought me to something called "Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp."  We turned the bridge into an outdoor gym, running and squatting and doing pushups on the railing. Making spectacles of ourselves, all sweaty and determined. At the end of the bootcamp, as I was pushing off the side of the bridge to do a final sprint, I caught sight of that boyfriend (see Butterflies, above), 5 years post-breakup.

6. Bicycle: When I moved back to Brooklyn a year or so ago, I forgot my bicycle back in Manhattan. So one day I ventured to my old place, reclaimed the bike, strapped on my helmet, cruised down the West Side highway bike path, across Warren street, and onto the Brooklyn Bridge. It's only once you are on a bike that you notice a few things about the bridge: the approach is ever so slightly totally uphill; the bike lane is wide enough for one bike, but must accommodate bikes in both directions; tourists do not understand that walkers go on one side and bikers go on the other. Chaos. Terror. Me ringing my little bell and saying "oh excuse me, pardon me, oh sorry," and sweating bullets the whole time.

7. Photo shoot: I have saved the best for last.  One night, at about 8 or 9 pm, I headed across the bridge, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. As I got near the middle I came upon a photo shoot, someone posing in the clear sparkly night, a big light, a photographer, an assistant perhaps.  As I got closer, my eyes focused on the model: Neil Diamond, in a tuxedo, with some shellacked hair and terrifyingly white teeth.