Bridges and Tightropes

September 15, 2015


I have a semi-irrational fear of open man-made structures. Heights sometimes scare me too. But specifically catwalks, scaffolding, fire-escapes, rafters, and bridges you can see through.

My reoccurring nightmares from age 4 or so involve being up high, walking on something and having it give way under me and then falling before I wake up. I don’t mind the falling when it feels like flying. It’s the sudden jolt of waking up from something quite lovely and liberating that fucks me up. And yes, everything is still a metaphor. This sensation is recreated on roller coasters, but somehow I love those. I can’t explain it. One paralyzes me the other exhilarates. It’s my psyche, I usually let her do as she pleases.

“Falling is easy you just fall…Jumping takes strength of will.” Dead Like Me

I fall often.

A friend lives on an isthmus, I have to drive over a lift-bridge. Steel ships come into the bay and they are too tall to go under, so it lifts. The usual reaction when the lights flash a warning is everyone throws their car in park, stretches their legs and watches the ship come in. 20 to 30 minutes of ‘oh well, might as well enjoy the break from life’ en masse. I like it when that happens, tiny shared moments with strangers. Calm, cathartic comradery.

Its pleasant, until I have to cross the bridge, its metal mesh, you can see through to the water under it.
I don’t do well with cable cars either. There is a gondola that goes over Niagara Falls, upon it I had my first panic attack, before there was really a word for such things.

Not a fan of dangling. I always imagine lava or something hot. Mind you…my mindset is really…

‘Of course I know the stove is hot.

Why else would I want to touch it?’

“Warmth can only come from a burning.” Stephen King

My bridges don’t burn. Flame retardant they be.

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down my fair lady.

My bridges don’t fall.

Except, oddly apropos, the two that came from Mother England. They went at the foundations with a fucking wrecking ball. Not my Piccadilly Circus, not my job to rebuild, they undermined the overpass to the point whereit’s not reparable. Just try to cross it and I will watch you fall. There are gators down there, just sayin’.

“Anything to declare?”
“Ya, don’t go to England.”

I am a fair lady. I am my own.

I am fair and just and forgiving

Sometimes the structures are poorly built and tend to sway in high winds, but hey, all structures are fallible comes with being man-made or woman-born or something. Sometimes they look like the ones in ‘Romancing the Stone’. Primitively built but passable if you are brave, or being chased by crazy drug lords.

The Mackinaw Bridge I crossed as a kid still stands, long and winding spanning so much time, space and lake. Marvel of modern engineering that one. Boggles the mind really.

There are trap doors and trolls that will eat those who trip trap across their bridge. There are passwords and codes to avoid such things. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not “FUCK YOU Sarah”, unless it’s a Last Boy Scout “fuck you Sarah”. He was trying to say he loved her, in his own misguided manly way. Usually all it takes is a hello. I’m not complicated.

At my girl’s house last night, looked at my phone. Pulled back like I had been slapped over an Instagram heart. What the fuck is he doing here? We talked about this. It’s like a little tentative wave from the safety of his side of his self-created crevasse. There were explosions, he pulled plays from the fuckboi handbook…get her interested, fuck her and leave. Reappear as soon as you feel that thread starting to slack because she isn’t pulling for you anymore. Not enough water has gone under this one to wash shit clean, everything is muddy and tumultuous and I don’t feel safe. Just stay on your side and I will stay on mine.

There was a book in required reading, grade 9 English class. Something about the protagonist having to walk this razor thin foot path along the cliffs of Dover to escape something. There was a thread involved. The teacher pointed out the symbolism, it stuck with me. Yes, it is indeed easier to keep your balance and avoid dying smashed on the rocks if you have even the thinnest of threads to hold onto. I cannot remember the name of the book, but that idea has never left me.

None of them ever really leave me.

Greek mythology has the 3 Fates, weaving our lives on a loom, cutting the thread when our time comes. Sometimes introducing a red thread that doesn’t make any sense until time passes, and you can pull back and see the bigger picture…”Oh THAT is how he fit in. How lovely.”

I was folding laundry, dropped into that Zen meditative state that happens with repetitive tasks, wax on wax off. A thought came screaming out of the crystal clear blue. ‘I forgive these fuck boys because I want to’.

I really do.

This particular fuck boy doesn’t have a bridge, he has a tightrope. I am sitting back, watching waiting to see what he does with it. Man-up grab a bar and try to walk it? Or more likely hang himself with it. Such a waste.

Forgiveness feels good, we have been through this. Maybe I keep doing the same shit over and over so I can fine tune it and get it right. Maybe I just like who I am and how I do things.

I look into the abyss, the abyss looks back and I do not want to fight the monsters I see there, I want to fuck them and love them. (Nietzsche. Paraphrased within recognition.)

I design these bridges with the materials given. I do my best to fortify and strengthen them on my own.

All engineers wear a steel ring on their pinkie. It’s a reminder. The original rings came from a bridge that collapsed, due to human error and killed a lot of people. “Rings used to be cast in iron in the most unattractive and simple form to show the nature of work. The ring is symbolic of the oath taken by the wearer, and symbolizes the unity of the profession in its goal of benefiting mankind. The stainless steel from which the ring is made depicts strength.” (Source Wikipedia)

I like this, it rings true to me.




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