under the bridge…

when i arrived in iowa, bugg’s and i had to walk around the des moines airport parking lot, for what seemed like almost an hour. we were hunting for our rental car. in des moines, they don’t bring the car to you, you have to go find it yourself.

we were wandering around, while it was freezing cold and snowing. i was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a thermal and bugg’s was wearing a sweater and a harness. we were dragging along a big red suitcase, a medium-sized green carry-on, and a black shoulder bag. 

i was freezing. bugg’s was freezing. my fingers were so fucking cold, that they didn’t feel like they were part of my body anymore. i imagined accidentally banging them on something and watching them shatter, like glass.

i kept looking at bugg’s, feeling so horrible and saying, “keep moving, keep moving!!” i didn’t want him to freeze. when we finally found the car, my fingers couldn’t hold the keys, to open the car. after dropping them repeatedly, i finally got the door open.

i picked my freezing dog up and struggled to get him into the car. i took off my thermal and wrapped him up in it. i started the car to get the heater going. i wrestled the bags into the back seat, with my frozen fingers and climbed inside.

finally, everything was in the car. i cranked up the heat and unthawed my fingers, so that i could drive. my phone was completely dead, but i plugged it in. we got lost for an hour in downtown des moines. finally, we found the highway and sped on.

as we were speeding down the snowy highway, we passed a sign that grabbed my interest. being a gooshy-hearted romantic, i immediately took note of a sign directing the way toward the bridges of madison county. they were the ones from the book and movie. i put them on my mental “must do” list.

we eventually arrived at our destination and disembarked. at some point, i told my friend that that was something that i wanted to go and see, and photograph. i think that she might have laughed out loud at me, but i was serious, and i really wanted to go!! 

one night toward the end of my visit, we traveled to winterset, to try to fix a problem with verizon. my friend had gotten a new phone, a motorola droid play x. she got it because it had a 16 megapixel, rear-facing camera, but it would not sync her contacts and was a pain in the ass, with no photo gallery.

the store in winterset, turned out to be just a satellite store, with employees who were powerless to help. instead, they directed us to go back to the des moines store, to return the phone and talk to the manager. 

on the way back to greenfield, my friend asked me if i wanted to go and see the roseman covered bridge, the same bridge as in both the movies “beetlejuice,” and “the bridges of madison county.” (incidentally, one of my friends favorite movies is “beetlejuice” and we saw it around christmas…another strange coincidence.)

after getting a little bit turned around on the back roads, we pulled up to a rusty-red colored, covered bridge. it was mysterious in the hazy night and unmistakable. there was no one else around and it was quiet, other than the trickle of water that wasn’t frozen, in the river beneath it.

my friend stood at the historical marker and read the history of the bridge to me out loud, as i walked closers to get a better look and start taking photos. at one point, i was only half listening, when i heard some kind of weird, echoing, cacophony come from under the bridge.

the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up and i recoiled backward, in a big bounce…back to the “safety” of my friend. as i reached her side, she read that the bridge was said to be haunted by an escaped prisoner and people have reportedly heard laughter while on the bridge.

after that initial fright on my part and a cigarette with my absolutely fearless and unflappable friend, we ventured forward. we both had our phones out and were taking photos. we saw lots of interesting graffiti and lots of fascinating nuts and bolts, from older times (1883).

i took photos of her. she took photos of me. and, we took several selfies. at one point, i stood directly behind my friend and took photos of her, while she took photos of a hole in the bridge, that she wanted to photograph. as all that took place, i heard a thunk and my friend said, “oh shit!!”

i was afraid to ask, but did. somehow, her faulty, crappy phone was under the bridge…somewhere. the river below was frozen over in some places, but not in others and it was twelve feet deep, in the middle. i stood there befuddled. i didn’t know what to do and was wondering if verizon’s loss protection would cover it.

i stood there lost in thought. and then i heard, “give me your shoes and your phone.” silently, i slipped my shoes off. standing there in stocking feet, i knew that there was no trying to stop her. she is a woman with a plan and preparation for everything. 

this woman, she takes my breath away. she slipped off her high heeled shoes, put on my asic gels, and rolled up her jeans. she descended the hillside wearing my shoes, jeans, tank top, nice blouse, vintage scarf tied at the neck, headband supporting her perfect “do”, brand new peacoat adorned with a vintage pin, and brown cat-eye glasses.

she used the flashlight on my phone, to find her way down the hill. that was fine and good, until my phone stopped working and she asked how to power it back on. once she had it on again, i yelled to her to call her phone. she did and saw the phone lying on the ice in the middle of the river.

and then, my phone died again for good. trying to get to the area where she remembered the phone being, she fell partially through the ice, but didn’t tell me. she cut her hands and remembered what her father had taught her about falling through ice in alaska. 

somehow (and i say that for me, not for her. she knew that she would be fine. she never had any doubts. she is the calmest, most in control, self-confident woman that i have ever met or known.), she pulled herself out of the water and crawled to where she thought her phone was. she found it, but the back cover was missing, it flew off on impact.

(now, i hate to say it, but at that point, i would have cut my losses…but honestly, who am i trying to fool? i never would have had the balls to go down there after my phone. i would have been making an insurance claim and paying a deductible…but this woman, she’s got chutzpah!!)

she stayed on that fucking ice and felt around until she found the back. i heard a yell of victory and begged her to come back up. i heard nothing, but saw the flash of her camera going off repeatedly. she was down there taking photos under the bridge and of the ice that she had been on…oh, and she was taking selfies, too.

finally, i saw her climb up the hill. she looked at me and apologized repeatedly for getting my shoes wet. i told her that all that i cared about was that she was okay. she showed me her cut up hands and her wet pants, but she was still stunning. 

she came back up looking the same way as she did going down, other than being wet and having her hands cut up. she asked for a smoke and a pen. we each had a cigarette between our lips, as we took one last selfie together. then, we went back inside the bridge to add our names to the walls of graffiti. 

i asked her to do the honors. she wrote her name, then drew a heart, and then wrote my name…around our names and heart, she drew a flower. then, she took photos of our piece of posterity together. we walked back to the car breathless, with a grand adventure under our belts.

the next day, we went to the verizon store in des moines. she didn’t want that phone and was determined to get a new one. she looked at the manager, told him what she wanted, and he pointed out a scratch on the back piece. however, he went and got his personal phone, took his perfect back off, and switched the two out.

he accepted the phone as a return and waived the restocking fee. she then picked out a new iphone and all was good with the world, without ever having to say anything about what happened to the phone, or explain it’s bizarre adventure in the freezing cold night…under the bridge. 



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