On a Bridge in Georgia
Today I’m walking over the bridge to go to the supermarket, taking a break from work. Listening to music on my phone, the Killers playing live. A young and strongly-built guy – maybe even a bodybuilder – is standing at the railing with his head deep in his hands.
Brandon Flowers says to the crowd: “Any of you people ever loved somebody? Sometimes it comes very quickly, very easily. As easy as the way a beautiful English girl’s hair falls across her shoulder…”
Something feels wrong, but I keep walking. Twenty metres ahead at the empty bridge bar, I smile and wave and say, “Gamarjoba,” to the bartender. She’s semi-surprised but does the same. I stop at the railing a bit further and look down the line. The guy is seriously distressed and his hands are gripping around his eyes.
Brandon continues in my headphones: “And sometimes it disappears just as quick. You wake up one morning, the butterflies stop fluttering. But you want it back and you want to fight for it. You wanna breathe that fire again. So you call for it. You call out.”
If I don’t do something here, I’m gonna hate myself all week. A group of four walk past the guy the same direction I had. One man stops to take a panoramic video shot of the river and fort and mountains behind the blue sky, not registering this guy right in front of him with a drooping head. Or ignoring him. I pause the song and walk back.
I stand next to him. “Excuse me.” He doesn’t react. “Are you okay, man?”
He looks up. Flaming blue eyes. Riverstream tears cascading down his neck.
“Did you have a breakup? We’ve all been there. Tell me what’s up.”
“My English…” he says and wipes his cheeks, “What is your name?”
“Dean.” We shake hands and he tells me his name too. “You had a girlfriend? Now you don’t?” I use hand gestures as best I can. I feel he understands this, but he mutters something incomprehensible between his sniffling and rumbling through his throat and chest.
I put my hand on his near shoulder and say, “It’s okay.” He grips my far shoulder tighter.
“Thank you,” he says. “You’re a good man.”
Not entirely true – plenty of people think I’m a dick but that’s perfectly fine.
“I’m sorry I can’t communicate better with you. My Georgian sucks.” I can only remember a total of three or four Georgian words.
He asks for my Facebook. After adding, I grab his shoulder again: “I have to go. But everything will get better. I promise.” We shake hands again.
This time passing the bartender again we share a forced grin.
Entering the supermarket, I don’t plan to write anything later, and definitely don’t want to share publicly – it can reek of moral superiority. But now, grabbing kidney beans from the shelf, I remember the biggest killer of young men is their own hands – so I change my mind and don’t care how some will judge.
Crossing the bridge towards home, heavy loads are in my hands, while the lowering sun shoots a blinding beam downstream. Jazzy beats are playing at the bar, spices from a mulled wine container dance in the ray of light, and the railing is only touched by the feet of a Kingfisher.