July 19, 2011

Birthday Eve

Thirty five years is a long time to look back and remember with clarity most things. I was talking with my brother on the phone last night and I told him I would write a post about what we and our room mates did on that day. We were talking about that day the four of us ditched classes at UK and drove to High Bridge.

Brad said he thought I drove since I was the only one with an intact consciousness. The rest were, shall we say, seeing glowing edges and happy trails on that brilliant spring day. I was part designated driver, part spirit guide.

There wasn't a whole lot to stand on crossing the bridge on foot. a narrow way to the left of the double train tracks. Hell, no one was supposed to be walking on the bridge anyway and if we were caught we'd most certainly be fined or at worst, taken to jail. There had been people killed walking on this bridge while a train happen to come along. Nah...this could never happen to us.

High Bridge was built in 1877 and at that time was the highest railroad bridge in the U.S. It is still in use today. It crosses the Kentucky River, 300 feet below.

We were about halfway across and my brother threw a large rock he was carrying for that purpose off the side. It fell..... and fell..... and fell. We lost sight of it just before it hit the river. We barely heard it. We continued to the other side and turned to walk back. We heard the train whistle when we were about midway. I could feel the panic well up. We all stepped up the pace, hoping we could make it back before the train came through.

The train appeared and we could feel the bridge rumbling beneath our feet. The tiny walkway was too close to the track and there was a step up to an iron girder but there was nothing to hold onto but a steel cable two feet out. There we were, our backs to the passing train, holding onto the cable for dear life, our feet bouncing around on the girder, looking out upon the 300 foot drop. It seemed the train went on forever.

The drive back to our apartment was a quiet one. I've never been so terrified before or since. I'll be fifty-six tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. But if you hadn't done the bridge walk, try to imagine how differently your life might've been.

    I believe we're an experience driven creature ... without them we have no stories, no songs and are of little interest to other people.