Safe Crossing

Owen McGreevy, Tri-Editor in Chief

Muddy brown water flows slowly downriver, carrying a small piece of driftwood further out of view. Clouds overtake the sky, letting no sun creep through. A fierce wind whips by, sending chills throughout my body. On this frozen morning, an uncanny silence overtakes the normal chaos and noise of the city. It seems as if Louisville is on hold, waiting for the sun to show. Today, the Big Four Bridge is nearly empty, with only a few people making their way across.

As I walk up the thick concrete path, an American flag ripples in the wind. Its enormous stars and long stripes fold over each other repeatedly. The new vantage point reveals a different look at the city. High rises and highways prove that the city never can truly pause, as lights flicker and cars whiz by.

A man bundled in warm winter clothes and a big black jacket looks out towards the city. A toboggan keeps his head warm. His face, however, is exposed to the bitter cold, which must be numb by now. He stands there calmly in the moment, taking it all in. 

I stand there, like the man I saw before, overlooking the city and the river, taking it all in.

A family huddles together, using their bodies to warm each other. They read about the bridge, how it was built and how it came to be what they are standing on right now. The group of five soon decides the cold is too much and starts making their way back down to the warm refuge of their car. Their break is over; they will start up their hectic lives again.

A cyclist, almost completely covered, reveals nothing but his eyes as he accelerates down the ramp. The wheels of his bike turn in incredible fashion, racing towards the foot of the bridge.

Walking across the bridge now, I see a child’s pink coat, left behind and forgotten. What once covered a kid’s arms and shoulders now sits alone, sprawled on the cold ground.

Surrounded by metal, I start to make my way across the Ohio River. Orange and brown rust overtakes the entire frame and creeps onto the concrete below. Benches line the sides in groups of three, waiting for anyone brave enough to venture into this cold.

Continuing my walk towards Indiana, I look down and stare into the watery abyss. The driftwood is long gone by now and there’s nothing in the river. Not a single boat floats by. Despite the harsh wind, the water is calm, slowly churning and flowing.

A half mile later, the Louisville side seems distant. I once again look down, this time at the riverbank. A recent overflow from the Ohio has left a line of driftwood in the brown, dying grass. One stick and log after another, the trail seems to go on forever.

photo by Owen McGreevy

Two more cyclists head my way, a reminder that I’m not alone. Wearing ball caps and warm jackets, they travel leisurely past me as hip-hop music blasts in their speakers. They’ll make their way quickly into Kentucky, arriving there with ease.

Turning around, I gaze down the bridge to my starting point. It looks as if it’s a tunnel, with the end being a tiny spec in the distance. The cold persists as gray clouds still blanket the sky. The silence is still notable, almost as if I have plugged my ears.

As the busy city slows temporarily, I slow down as well.  I relax, existing in the moment with no worries.

I no longer care that my hands are losing feeling or that my toes never had any feeling in the first place. I stand there, like the man I saw before, overlooking the city and the river, taking it all in.