February 29, 2016
I live in the City of Bridges. Pittsburgh has over 450 of them. Most of these monstrosities of steel and stone bear marks of their Victorian era heritage, and inspections prove many unsafe. Yet, we “Yinzers” trust the girders and bolts to hold the weight of our cars during rush-hour stand-stills. We notice the city crest clutched in the talons of carved eagles or the peregrine nest spanning the Allegheny River. Gone are the smokestacks of Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills, but the stain of hard work and sweat leave lasting marks.
Close to my home, a new Hulton Bridge supplanted the old lavender-colored structure. My children and I watched the implosion of the unsafe, old structure. Bald eagles who make the overlooking hillside their home retreated to hunt when the prowess of engineering dropped all but the support posts.
Although we number some of our bridges, some we name after such celebrities as environmental activist Rachel Carson and baseball great Roberto Clemente. From the structures, extravagant fireworks displays launch. Upon the bridges, protestors have staged statements. From bridges, many have leapt to their deaths.
The purpose of bridges, though, is safe passage. They allow us to visit our families or take in a Steelers game. Traversing their expanses open up worlds otherwise inaccessible without boats. Bridges bring our communities together.
As I consider the bridges, I realize I need to lay some footers, cement the reinforcements around steel supports. The bridges I refer to are, of course, metaphoric, but their importance cannot be denied. Relationships require care, and with the passage of time, friendships grow rusty. I can wait for my loved ones to wave from their shores, or I can employ my mettle to build my own bridge to reach them where they stand. Sure, I can wonder why I have to build the bridges, make the efforts, begin the tasks, but truly what good would that do? The work may be hard, but work worth doing often is, indeed, difficult.
So, I’ll craft bridges of my own devising, adding to the hundreds here in this land of steely strength, and hope once they’re stable over rushing waters, my friends will trust their integrity and join me on occasion, too.
To read more letters, click on The Path!