May 10, 2010

The Bridge

This week's episode of This American Life is called simply: The Bridge. I didn't have to read the synopsis to know that I shouldn't listen to it. It speaks to the way that my life has been altered. Bridges will forever be symbols of grief. I am no longer surprised by how often the Golden Gate Bridge appears in media culture. I have not set foot in the city of San Francisco, aside from the airport, since we drove to pick up Laura's car in the week after she jumped. I have no plans to go there again. It is difficult to explain the strength of my reaction to that city, let alone the bridge. When I am confronted by an image of the bridge it feels as if I have placed my hands in boiling water, or stepped on a nail, or fallen. I saw it once, just once, from an airplane upon arrival in California. I found myself twisting in my seat just to stare, fixated. I could not look away. It is a unnerving to see this massive thing, this beloved thing, and to know that right there, in that place, a life ended and your life became this thing, this unrecognizable thing. People frequently post pictures of themselves in front of the bridge on facebook, and it is always making appearances in film, usually without warning. I understand. It is beautiful. But what people don't seem to see is that for more people than can be counted, this bridge is a symbol of horror, of loss. So many, so many people have died there. Innumerable people have died there. It is literally the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. But people do not like to think about that. They like a beautiful bridge over a beautiful body of water. And while I can understand it, it hurts me to feel isolated by my sorrow. It hurts to hate people for their ignorance, or their unawareness, or their ability to live easily, without pain. It hurts to think of it, that orange metal wrapped in fog. But I know that there are things I can not change, and bridges I can not will to sink into the sea, and people who can not, will not understand.

1 comment:

  1. My heart sank as I saw the title for TAL this week. I thought of you, and I thought to call, but I knew you had probably already listened.

    While I don't have a bridge, I know the hands in boiling water feeling. Hang in there, darling.