It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m sitting in Paris, KY, in the bay window of my niece’s sunny yellow bedroom. She and O are jumping on the bed, and while I’m motioning them to stop, I’m also chatting on the phone with my brother, SC. He spent the holiday with his sweetheart, so this is the first chance we’ve had to finally catch up.
“So you’re coming home Saturday…what are you doing Sunday?” he asks.
Again, I make eye contact with the bouncing kiddos, adopt a stern face and point firmly at the ground. “I’m going to get up as early as I can, drive to the Ohio/Indiana border and stand on it. Wanna come with me?”
He pauses, then says sheepishly, “I, uh, think I have some stuff to do.”
“I can’t blame you,” I say.
“What’s wrong with standing on the Kentucky/Ohio border you’ll actually be crossing tomorrow?”
“That’s a lovely thought, SC, but the state line is somewhere in the middle of the Ohio River. I thought about standing on the I-71N bridge, but, whoa. I’d rather not be run over for being in the way.”
“…Or,” he says patiently, “You could try one of the pedestrian bridges in Newport.”
I sit up a little straighter. Pedestrian bridges? I pry for details, because I do not want to drive my crazy self all the way to Indiana on Sunday. I just don’t. And now I don’t have to. Leave it to my big brother to turn my latest 36×37 assignment—Stand on the State Line—into something totally viable.
We don’t even worry about Newport. The John A Roebling suspension bridge reaches from Covington, KY to Cincinnati, and we only have to wander along the shoreline to find it. At 1,057 feet in length, it’s an impressive structure. When it first opened to pedestrians in 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Also? It was designed by the same German-American engineer (John A Roebling) who designed the Brooklyn Bridge.
And now I’m going to walk on it. I’m going to find the border and put one foot in each state for the singular purpose of being in two places at once.
GB parks in an empty lot at the base of the bridge. From where we’re sitting, we can see one other person making his way to the other side. “Looks like it’s just you and that guy,” he says.
“I’ll tell him you said hi.” I blow kisses to my two skeptical children, and sprint up the steps to the south anchorage.
The air is frigid. I can see my breath as I walk, even under this cheerful, eggshell-blue sky. When I pass the other pedestrian, I say hello, and he smiles warmly. Then, five minutes later, I pass two other guys walking their bikes. When I say hello, they wave and wish me a happy Thanksgiving. It’s like we’re instantly pals because we happen to be walking across the same bridge. And honestly, it’s great. Suddenly, I’m a big fan of these ultra-friendly bridge people.
I make it all the way to the north anchorage without seeing a sign to depict the state line, so I march back to what looks like the center-most point of the bridge. I take a picture of my feet straddling the line, but it doesn’t come out.
So instead, I snap this shot of the Covington side:
And this shot of the Cincinnati side:
I’m happy, and that’s that. This isn’t anything Earth-shattering, and it has no grand significance. It’s just a moment I’ve created for myself that I hope I won’t forget.
On my way back to the car, I pass my last fellow pedestrian. He has a six-pack in one hand and cigarette in the other. When I say “Hi,” he says nothing back. He just looks at me like I’m crazy to walk alone on this bridge at the end of November.
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