Those who know me well know that I have a particular phobia/neurosis/aversion related to bridges.
I don’t like them.
Suspend themselves above water, forest, or concrete and promise to deliver one safely from where one is to where one wants or needs to be.
And I have trust issues.
So trusting that promise the bridge makes is a huge big deal.
Add to that the height of the things, and yeah. I’m a particular kind of hot mess on certain road trips. I watch the GPS screen to see snakes or vast blotches of water and stress over whether that blue directional line that I am following will indeed take me over certain death.
It doesn’t matter if I’m driving or if someone else is behind the wheel. I’m a mess. Sweaty hands. Can’t catch my breath.
Like Adrian Monk and germs, or his other 311 phobias. But all 312 of mine are wrapped up in bridges.
Monk also has OCD, wherein he must touch things. With just one finger… More on that in a minute.
The Hubs and I got away to Chattanooga last week. It was a nice little road trip. But the Ohio River and Tennessee River and who-knows-how-many high-up concrete interstate tangles lay between our corn field and our hotel at the base of Lookout Mountain.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised that this hotel was situated so that no Tennessee River crossing was required. The last time I visited Chattanooga, I had to cross the river multiple times a day. All that crossing did nothing to desensitize my bridge anxiety about this trip.
The first night in the city, we took a walk downtown. We meandered and read Civil War tidbits and intriguing Cherokee Indian lore and their fate along the Trail of Tears. Then we came to the mouth of a giant blue bridge hanging over the river. The Chief John Ross Bridge, I do believe.
And something in me said enough.
Enough of this nonsense and irrational fear.
Enough of being unable to control it (or anything else in THE CIRCUS! that is our life—I do believe this CIRCUS had a lot to do with what happened next).
I started walking.
Right onto the bridge.
“What are we doing?” Hubs asked, more than a little trepidation in his voice. I can only imagine he believed that I’d either finally glitched all the way out or was suffering heat stroke—or both.
“What are we doing?” Little Miss Muse flitted around my head. I can only imagine she believed that I’d jump, forcing her to find another author to muse around with. And the author/muse relationship is so delicate, and I’ve spoiled her rotten. No other writer would willingly take her on. She’d have to hold another writer hostage with her bottle rockets…
“What am I doing?” I asked myself. I can’t imagine willingly walking onto such a structure had I been in my right mind and heat-stroke free. (I think the heat index at the time was 98 or so—heat stroke was a possibility).
But I think I’d just had… enough.
I couldn’t bring myself to walk near the water side, though. I put the Hubs there. I preferred to hang out with the speeding vehicles.
Made it out over the water, the cars rumbling the concrete beneath my feet. The walls closing in ever so slightly on the periphery of my vision.
Walked out to the beginning of the metal beast’s gaping mouth.
And I Monked the bridge.
I touched that sucker. With one single index finger.
Just like Adrian Monk.
Then, with weak and shaky knees, I snapped a selfie with my guy to prove I’d done it, and we walked back, he and Little Miss worried the whole time I’d still topple into the buzzing traffic or faint dead right there on the spot.
But I didn’t die.
I felt like I had some sense of control. Or at least the illusion of it.
And the next day? I did the swinging bridge over a gorge at the top of Lookout Mountain in Rock City (after I was sure I’d be the only one on the structure).
I Monked that sucker, too.
And I didn’t die.
Though, Little Miss may have suffered heat stroke and will commence filing workers’ compensation claims tomorrow.
Monking those bridges did nothing to change the circumstances of THE CIRCUS. But I did it.
It also didn’t cure my phobia, as evidenced by my shirt-drenching anxiety when driving over the Ohio River through Louisville on the way home.
At any rate, tomorrow, I plan to Monk one of my manuscripts. Even if I only get so far as to point at it with one bossy index finger.
I also plan to Monk the writing schedule, a couple of cats (this is also called nose-booping, FYI, and two of the three cats enjoy it), and the ever-growing pile of shorts that need to find a market or be placed into a new collection.
One step at a time to regain some control…
Or at least the illusion of it.