I set out for Cape Cod on a Wednesday last October. It was sunny and cool and the best weather you could ask for when taking a road trip and all went smoothly. No traffic and most importantly no encounters with unexpected bridges that I’d missed as I’d hunted for them when I planned the route. No emergency bathroom stops. Making great time.
Now the Sagamore Bridge was the hurdle at the end of the trip. I came to the end of Route 25. Here you have a couple of options: go east to the Sagamore Bridge or straight to the Bourne Bridge. Both go to the Cape. In the summer months at the height of traffic this decision matters but today while I preferred the Sagamore the Bourne would have worked.
As I came off the rotary heading east on Route 6 towards the Sagamore, I headed uphill. Down the embankment to my right was the Cape Code canal. Because the leaves were mostly off the trees I could catch a glimpse of the bridge up ahead. As I think about it now, facing my fear and looking directly at a bridge is not right for me. Seeing a large bridge makes me super uncomfortable. But on that day I just couldn’t help myself.Although I purposely did not drink coffee, I was wound up.
Inside I kept repeating:
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
People go over this bridge every day. All the time.
Some people do this every day.
I can do this. I can do this.
I can hold on to the steering wheel.
I can keep the car straight and not veer off the side.
Then I thought what are the chances the bridge could collapse while I’m on it.
I tried to focus on the soft jazz music playing on the radio and I stopped trying to steal glimpses of the bridge.
Then, my cell phone rang.
It sounded like a tiny musical explosion in my anxious state. Hours alone in the car and no calls and now when I needed my wits someone wanted to talk to me.
It was my husband wanting to make sure I’d arrived safely. I told him I was about to go over the bridge. He encouraged me.
I can’t recall ever having driven over a bridge like this either on my own or with a passenger. It was a first. Although I know my husband’s confident I can do most anything I set my mind to, I wondered whether he was reconsidering the advice he’d always given me when I’m a passenger and we’re about to cross a scary bridge; SHUT YOUR EYES.
He wanted to know if I wanted him to stay on the phone with me (hands free, of course). I decided it would be a good thing but I likely wouldn’t be talking.
I got onto the bridge and managed to get into the left lane and away from the edge. That felt better. There wasn’t much traffic around me and I wasn’t holding anyone up behind me. The lanes were narrow and I recall doing a respectable speed. The sun was bright and the sky was brilliantly clear. I held the steering wheel like a robot making sure to keep it perfectly straight.
At the halfway point, there’s not a big apex but there is one. Or maybe I imagined it. In any case, I started to feel a bit more relaxed but I was still stressing. I told my husband I’d made it halfway and the next thing I knew I was over the bridge.
I hung up the phone.
I was off the bridge.
Relief. Deflated. Disappointed. Elated.
In the immediate moments I was on terra firma I realized my anxiety level was disproportionate to the actual event. Then I let myself think for just a second that this was too easy.
The bridge was behind me and my focus quickly shifted and I drove on to my cousin’s.
While I successfully drove over the Sagamore and I did it again 6 days later, I’m still scared and as anxious as can be about crossing bridges.
Fortunately I see no solo crossings in my future.