I think have an odd attraction / repulsion relationship with bridges.  Maybe I like the way they make me feel.

Deliberately, on purpose, no one asking, forcing or suggesting I do it, I’ve attempted to walk across a few intimidating  bridges. To me, the scariest I can imagine.  Even though one such attempt was more than 12 years ago, my heartbeat quickens as I relive it in my mind.

As I stepped onto the Capilano Suspension Bridge, behind me I heard lots of voices, laughing, excited, and I heard jackets rustling, and I heard quick steps clumping down the steps leading to the bridge.  I clung to the metal railing on the right side of the bridge and creeped forward a little.  My feet didn’t lift from the surface, they sort of shuffled ahead slowly.

I turned my head to the left  and saw a school group of kids moving towards me, full of energy on this cool, cloudy morning. They moved past me quickly and I saw a few boys jumping.  The bridge started to shiver and bounce. They laughed, not at me, but because they loved this.  Still I inched forward hanging on. My legs felt like they belonged to someone else. They were hard to move.


Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver, BC Canada (by netsnake creative commons attribution 2.0 generic license)

I envisioned us – well really me – flipping over as if from a hammock and falling into the emerald green ravine below.  Was that structurally possible? Could people on the bridge bounce it high enough to pop me right over the railing?  I felt buoyant, unsupported, and aloneI was suspended in the forest.

It felt different from being in a passenger in a car driving over a long suspension bridge.  I felt more exposed to the vastness, more body tension, and more out of control.  So I can’t figure out why I’d be more likely to attempt a walk across a bridge as opposed to a drive. Maybe my response to the bridge is something deep – a modern day fight-or- flight response.  Maybe I’m seeking out a danger to tangle with?

The kids zoomed to the other side and they were like a haze to me, just movement and color.   The bridge was still experiencing seismic activity.  I was not panicking.  I was breathing by my head was scrambled.  I could hear the Capilano River flowing below. I looked down and saw the water and a man in waders fishing.  I think that’s what I saw.

This scene put me over the edge so to speak and I couldn’t move forward, I turned around.  I had completed about one quarter of the way across the bridge, about 100 feet.  I slogged back to the beginning double-time which was still a slow trip.

Yes, I felt a tiny bit defeated, but I felt something else more strongly.  I felt elated for having tried and conquering a piece of the bridge.

Maybe somewhere inside me I enjoy the surge of the fear?  Otherwise I can’t explain this attraction and fear/repulsion of bridges.  I wonder whether other gephyrophobiacs feel this way?  Because it doesn’t make sense to me.

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