Yesterday afternoon I ran across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s not the easiest run, nor the shortest; those clever Roeblings somehow contrived to build the span so it goes uphill from the Brooklyn side for about 70% of its length, and then, remarkably, from the Manhattan side it does the same.
I confine my running to the gym for the most part, for a couple of reasons. The main one is that I’m thinking about my knees while I’ve still got them, and the cross-trainer has no impact for the knees and ankles; also that little shelfy thing for the CD player? Handy. On the bridge my crappy plucky flimsy cheapo set crosses its arms, plants its feet and refuses to go any further, smack in the middle of Elvis Costello’s Starting to Come To Me, which admittedly is on its third or fourth replay. So maybe it’s just getting bored.
On the other hand, I’m being one of those terrible people singing along, loud, to music you can’t hear, but I figure since I’m running I’ll get away with it. Maybe it’s divine payback.
Angel: Lord, check out that guy on the Bridge.
God: Hmm? Hmm. He’s not very fast, is he?
Angel: That’s not what I mean. He’s doing that thing.
God: What thing?
Angel: Singing. With headphones. Elvis Costello.
God: That’s just wrong.
CD Player: Wait, wait. It’s not my fault. It’s so not my–
The bridge span runs 2.25 miles from end to end and back again. I’d like to tell you I run all of it, but the truth is I’ve never mastered the art of running slowly, and so I pelt along in good bursts and then have to walk for a bit. Somewhere between half and two-thirds goes past at speed, and the rest is cooldown.
Years ago I briefly dated a girl who ran, every morning, for miles. We ran together only one time, with “together” being a generous concept, since she hit the ground and left me in the dust (she was fast, she was).
As with most of our moments, it was a microcosm of the, well, I guess we have to call it a “relationship,” though it really wasn’t one. Some of these run on a tragic kind of metonymy, where each awful moment contains the greater flaws of the terrible whole. While the fire is lit, it’s fascinating. After, every memory is limned with an inward, twisting sadness.
Later that day we came up for air in some vestibule or behind some building — she was cheating on a boyfriend she had left without telling him, and we were a hot little secret, and the same was about to be done to me — and I asked her about the running. I wouldn’t mind going with her again, I said. She liked the idea, she had a thing about being alone. But it’s not any fun if we’re not running together. Could we try that?
She kissed me. “It’s not going to work,” she said. “Linus,” she said. “You’re just running. I’m running away.” And then she took off her shirt. And we ran.
An announcement: I’m a member of an online photo community called Utata, which is a pretty fascinating group photoblog with benefits. We do periodic non-juried projects, which tend to come out amazingly well. The current one is Utata Goes to the Movies, in which we created images in homage to films or genres, or plotting out yet-unmade flicks. It’s a beautiful place to browse, and I recommend it. If you’d like to start off with my three shots, this is where they live.