Meet me under the bridge. Anyone who grew up in Smiths Falls knows exactly which bridge I’m talking about. That first time you explored the town, at whatever age your parents finally permitted you to roam alone, you came here and climbed the railing or ran across the frozen canal to the other side.
Every year, you can see the footprints in the snow and think you should try it, or you murmur under your breath, “idiots.” I know you’ve been here. You heard parts of conversations, as people walk by above, unware of how much their voice echoed below. You wonder where exactly that camera is pointed and imagine where its blind spots must be. Maybe at an older age, you exchanged some goods and services here, constantly looking up to make sure no one was coming. You maybe had your first drink here. Maybe your second and third too. You stumbled down the path and rested a moment before scaling the stairs back above ground. You smoked here. You shared here. Maybe you hid from cops here. You learned the sounds of foot steps coming your way and car doors closing in the nearby parking lots. It was the perfect spot, out of sight with no road access and beside the water where incriminating things can be easily tossed. Maybe you found friendship or love here. Maybe you reflected on life here. You always came here looking for something and you always left here a little more grown up.
Then you did grow up. You came back here and it looks the same. You walk your children through here. You learn how to explain the giant water elevator for boats is here. There’s no Facebook or Twitter handle for this place but it’s the most familiar spot in town to locals. It keeps our secrets, shares our dreams and all you need to say is, “Meet me under the bridge.”