The Bridge

Running. Sun Behind. Bridge ahead. Three orbs up. Winded. Pushing. Cross the water. Cross wind. Far Side. Turning. Back. Into the face of a shining sun.

A run to the bridge first swings up past the PICS track

The run to the bridge began as a bachelor in 1994 from an apartment at the bottom of Elenieng street. That first run was exploratory - a run to see the terrain. When I saw the bridge I knew that was my turn-around. Only when I reached the near side of the bridge did I realize that a run to the bridge ought to at least be to the middle of the span. To the center of mass if not also the center of gravity. Equidistant from either beginning of the bridge.

A run to the bridge heads down from capitol hill towards the intersection of Kaselehlie and Elenieng

At the middle of the bridge I realized that if one has made the effort to get to a bridge in life, then one should, at the very least, cross the bridge and experience the other side. I cross fewer bridges now than I did in my youth, and I cross them more cautiously than I did then.

The view from the bridge looking south

I ran to the far side of the bridge, crossed the Nett Point circumferential road, and then turned around. From that first day on, a run to the bridge meant a run to the far side. Nett bridge far side. NBFS.

 The view from the bridge looking north, Paipalap in the distance

Four years later my sister-in-law, my wife, and I would move to a home beyond the bridge in Nantipw-Lewetik, Nett. Once or twice a week I would run home from the college in Palikir, a distance on the order of fourteen kilometers. The bridge marked the start of roughly the final 1600 meters, a final mile.

The first time I ran the route I arrived after an hour and forty-two minutes. I knew I could easily bring that down under one forty, but I was uncertain whether under one-thirty was possible for me. For a runner, a 1:29:59 counts as "under one thirty."

I ran a number of runs in the low thirties when I managed to put my form, pace, and stamina together to notch a one-twenty-eight. Now I was looking at one-twenty, but putting together that one-twenty-eight was tough enough that one-twenty appeared unreachable.

In 1999 I learned that the bridge has a name, the Dausokele bridge.

Each run home from the college passed the Pohnpei state hospital. In May 2000, my son was born there. Two days later, with mother and child still in hospital, I ran past the hospital where my first born was sleeping.

My splits into Kolonia had been unbelievably fast for me - all under an hour. Running through Kolonia, I kept thinking I had to crash, I was too far above a pace that would get me to the bridge, let alone the last mile. As I passed the hospital, I realized something special was happening. Magic was happening. As the hospital slid past me, I realized this was a once in a lifetime evening, I would never run this run again. My bridge split confirmed this for me, and I flew home in a never repeated 1:15:15. I spent that night in the hospital holding my newborn son.

Seventeen months later my daughter was born in the same hospital. Two days later my son fell ill. I spent six days with him around the clock in the open children's ward. The nights were the longest, he was weakest in those small hours in the middle of the night. I knew that outside the moon was shining on an empty bridge.

I ran to the bridge when Heinrich was admitted to the hospital, racing the setting sun, to try to reach the bridge  before the sunshine vanishes from the deck of the bridge. I kept pushing harder. My body unwilling, but my mind telling my body, "You are not dying yet, fight on." I won my race that evening and burst out of the shadows into the last light of the sun on the deck, but Heinrich was lost to us.

I ran to the bridge when Benson was admitted, leaving me lost in the thoughts of the terrible terror of cancer.

I ran to the bridge when Harvey was in, struggling to breath. I pushed deep into my own oxygen debt. Faster. Faster. I am not breathless enough yet.

In early February the early evening sun shines straight down the lengthwise span of the bridge. Eastbound the sun is behind, the forested slopes of Nett Point ridge line aglow with the golden light of the late afternoon tropical sun.

On a race for the sunshine, this is the first view of the bridge

Westbound is directly into the scorching sun, still searingly hot. A stellar nuclear fusion furnace directly behind my three ascending and descending spheres, lit from behind like sunward planets. The only wind a solar wind.

On a lazy, sunny afternoon when the heat and humidity cause the fan and a nap on a cool tile floor to seem an appealing activity, the bridge beckons me. Calls out to come and race for the sunshine on the deck.

Sunshine on the deck of the bridge

Taking a loss on an issue at work, I try not to bring it home. I bring it to the bridge. Running amidst traffic, uneven surfaces, in the road, the wind, and the sun is too complex too remain focused on the matters of the day. They melt, dissolve in the heat, fall to the ground, and dissipate. Inbound Nett school I realize the shadows are long. The race is on, the race for a shadow being cast on the deck, a race for sunshine.

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