I held my hat when I went over the Hoan Bridge.With the top down on my old convertible and the wind off Lake Michigan, the ride up to the top seemed risky, like any minute, a gust would take my hat and my car and toss everything over the edge into the harbor below. I felt exposed like a person clinging to a giant kite now bouncing along the ground but likely to take off any minute.
Behind me the fog that looked misty when I drove through it approaching the arch of the bridge now looked like smoke. In the rear view mirror, it seemed like Milwaukee’s downtown was on fire somewhere, almost like tire fires farmers used to set in the Florida orange groves when the temperatures dipped and threatened the crop.Ominous as if something bad was going to happen. Or already had.
After I went to the old fruit market on the south side, I got back on the freeway to retrace my drive over the bridge. Coming around the turn to load on to the bridge, I took the exit for the harbor, deciding that it would be safer to go through town on the way home. It’s okay to be unnerved, I told myself. A ride through town would be nice. Relaxing. There’s no reason to be holding on to my hat going over a big bridge at 65 miles an hour, merging with semi-trucks and impatient guys in SUV’s.
And then I made a u-turn and got back on the freeway.
You have more than this bridge to be afraid of, I told myself.
Like getting old. Getting sick. Somebody dying. Losing everything. Forgetting everything. Becoming a perpetual passenger.
You can’t be afraid of the bridge. Not yet.
Drive over the bridge, I told myself. Drive like you own it. Drive like you’re flying. Drive like you’re glad. Drive like you mean it. Drive like this is the best day ever.
And hold on to your hat.