The Bridge

Prompt Day #252: Look deep inside and mull over your greatest fear. Now write what you think caused you to be so scared of this silly little thing. Consider everything out there that’s even scarier.

 

This one is a no brainer for me. The following is pure autobiography/Non-fiction.

The Bridge

                I have a completely irrational fear of walking over bridges, balconies, or any over-hang with a railing. Basically if there is a structure with a railing and beneath it is a lot of air, I can’t do it. My legs immediately turn to jelly and my stomach drops down there as if to say “I support the Legs’ views on this endeavor.” If I go to a two story (or more) mall, I have to walk on the inside closest to the stores rather than anywhere near the railing. And I get anxious if one of my children walk over to the railing and even worse if the lean over it to look down.

Once, I almost had a heart attack when I was at the zoo and my child leaned over a rail that went around the top of an immense aquarium filled with sharks. It’s as if I believe that the body’s center of gravity will shift in such a way that the person will simply topple up and over the rail and into the abyss. Like the glass bird with the liquid inside rolling back and forth tipping him down for a drink and then up to swallow before tipping again and again.

My husband, early in our marriage made the mistake of taking me on a lovely sight-seeing drive into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’d never been and it truly was awe inspiring. He pulled over at one point and wanted me to walk out onto this bridge which would provide a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan. I really didn’t want to do it, but I didn’t want to have to explain the intensity of my fear to my new spouse, so I took his hand as we walked along the pedestrian path towards the middle of the bridge. I focused on my breathing and tried to convince my brain that my legs did indeed still contain bones and the muscles required for locomotion. We arrived and turned to look out at the vastness of a lake that could just as easily been an ocean. The sun hopscotched across the deep blue ripples. It was magical….until the large eighteen-wheeler drove by giving a 4-D experience to watching the waves.

In the instant that I lost my Zen and the argument with my brain, I had a flashback to early childhood. I was probably three or four, certainly not in school yet, and we were camping in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my aunt and uncle and at least in my recollection another uncle too. We had gone on a hike and had come to a bridge. In my mind at least this bridge hung over a deep valley between two craggy mountains. I stood at the railing beside my uncle looking out in awe between the bars as I was much too short to see over the railing. My uncle noticed and picked me up, asking if I could see better now and I excitedly answered yes. I’m sure the picture in my mind is what three year old me saw because the valley so far below us went on into infinity just as Lake Michigan seemed to. Sensing my child-like wonder, my uncle, in what I can only assume was a well-meaning gesture, lifted me OVER THE RAILING and held me out over the canyon like Rafiki presenting Simba. I remember screaming and my mother yelling at him to stop. I don’t recall how long it took me to calm down but I know that it continues to affect me.

Sure, I suppose there are a lot of things scarier than bridges and railings. I think that snakes are scary too but at least they stay on solid ground at all times which doesn’t affect my legs’ ability to run away safely. And death is terribly frightening, especially death that comes from falling to it off a bridge. But if I think long and hard about it, I can come up with something scarier than death even; something so frightening that if given the choice between the two, I would probably choose to jump off the Mackinaw Bridge instead of living under the presidency of Donald Trump.

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