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.
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 alone. I 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.