The thing about me is that I’m not very good with details. I don’t often notice things like intricate interiors of theatres, or the look of a certain place in its entirety. I feel like a telephoto lens, zoomed all the way in, with very shallow depth of field.
Usually, when I go back to my hotel or wherever to rest, I review every single photo I’d taken that particular day and marvel at the many things I captured and the many things that failed to register in my head the moment I pressed the shutter button. I think, Oh, I don’t remember the building being that big and beautiful. This leads me to ask myself occasionally if photography is doing me good or if it has become a major distraction in my ability to enjoy the moment. It often feels so much like “saving things for later”.
What do I remember, if not these? Well, I can perfectly recall that Spanish couple standing in between the bicycle lane and walk lane, looking at each other intensely, arguing about something. I mean, I assumed they were arguing hearing how sharp words rolled off their tongues and seeing their passionate hand gestures which further asserted that they were in the midst of a misunderstanding. The man was more animated, possibly more annoyed, defensive, or the one being accused of something, while the woman stood and spoke rather calmly in comparison.
What could be better than an argument in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge? How romantic, I thought.
Further on was a father and son crossing the bridge together. They didn't say a thing as they walked and took in the view side by side. When we reached the end of the bridge, I heard the son speak with a British accent (I think?). His father then consulted a map.
It made me think of the many kinds of traveling that people do. I’m sure it’s impossible to enumerate all the ways in which you can explore the world, but theirs was definitely the calmer, quieter type. Just a father and son enjoying a long walk across a famous bridge, surrounded by busy tourists snapping pictures every few steps or so, not wanting to miss a single view, even if they all end up looking the same. My mother must have taken a hundred photos of me on that bridge in every angle and perspective you could think of. I guess I’ll never understand that until I become a mother myself.
For the record, the father and son looked pretty happy.
That afternoon, I decided on one thing: people-watching on bridges, especially one as popular, frequented, and beautiful as the Brooklyn Bridge, is both interesting and exhausting.
Bridges, in a way, represent people’s need to connect and to relate. Why would you travel thousands of miles, spending a fortune on plane tickets, just to hurt your feet while crossing the epically long Brooklyn Bridge? Apart from obvious things like its beauty, its historical significance, and the fact that it’s a tourist spot, why?
I’ve seen it in movies. Lovers meeting on that bridge, resolving a 60-minute long conflict in their relationship, signifying a brand new start in their lives, crossing over to a life to be spent together. Maybe it’s the sappy girl in me, but I wanted to know the feeling. I walked as if a man was on the other side waiting for me. I slowed down, full of doubt and conscious of people around me, then hurried up like I had a time limit. As if a few extra steps would've cost me.
When I finally reached the end, the feeling was anti-climactic. It didn’t feel like my life was going to change from that point on, but I was relieved. I took a seat on the nearest empty bench and rested my feet. Another fulfilled goal and that was it. I crossed the damn bridge. Now what?
I took my book of New York from my handbag in search of a new place to visit, a new plan. Nevermind that my guidebook is responsible for my skewed expectations and for romanticizing almost everything. I’m still me after all.