Advent Calender 21st: The Humber Bridge

21st-blue-and-silver-jumbo-balloonThe 2012 Advent Calender: For the 25 days of Christmas, I will be blogging each day about a miscellaneous thing I love. Not necessarily a big thing, not necessarily a small thing and not in any order.

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I grew up in a small town called Barton on the banks of the river Humber. The only real claim to fame for the area is the Humber Bridge which crosses the river to Hull, on the other side. It still stands (I believe) as the widest single-span bridge in the world, which means that the space between the posts (1.1) miles is the longest–there are many longer bridges. It has the look of a bedraggled Golden Gate bridge, and I do occasionally confuse them on television.60520_10150285528070385_5495134_n

Growing up, it was always part of my life. My family’s church was on the other side of the bridge, and so we crossed it there-and-back at least twice every Sunday. Most of the routines and friends of my parents life were fixed in Hull as well, and we were affluent enough to not worry about the exorbitant bridge toll, so I must have crossed that bridge thousands of times in a car. Then, one day, when I was about fourteen, I walked back across the bridge from a church event that had been held on the Hull side. I remember it seemed like an incredibly long walk (there’s about a mile and a half extra walking either side of the posts), but I remember also feeling a great freedom. The view from the bridge is uncomplicated and simple–just a huge river flowing to the horizon in either direction. It’s not frequently particularly pretty; it’s generally brown. From the middle you can see my town, and presumably my house, just small dots, and the city of Hull is barely visible.

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When I was sixteen I stopped attending my parents’ church and began attending my brother’s church. Most of what happened in the next two years is related in my advent post on the 16th about Duckboy, the best friend from that church who I fell in love with. What isn’t in that post is how, every single Sunday evening, I would be dropped on the Hull side of the bridge, and I would walk across and home. Sometimes I would be picked up on the other end, and sometimes I would walk all the way through the small streets of Barton.

I used to plug my iPod into my ears, and get wrapped up in the music. And every single night that was an hour of complete freedom–with home a million miles away in one direction, and the complications of Hull and the life there in the other direction. Most nights I would be enacting some kind of extreme emotion–joy, excitement, jealousy, sadness–and it just seemed the natural place, with the pylons stretching right up to the sky. I remember walking across for several months, caught in the complete flush of first love, and enacting out imagined conversations. I don’t really remember whether they came out of my lips or not, but I was usually completely alone, so who knows. Once I was pulled over by the suicide watch team for looking too morose and standing too long, and driven home unless I threw myself off.

Usually when I return home, I take a walk back across the bridge, and you can always tell when you’re nearly home when you can see the posts in the far distance, appearing over the fields.

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