The death of light, the conquest of the icy mountain air, and the merciless reign of languor turned me into a raging psychopath. A healthy dose of California was just what I needed to clarify my brain.
While in the Golden State, I tweeted my shoeless adventures in real time, but since I don’t have anywhere near as many followers on Twitter as I do visitors for this Website, I thought I’d explore the incident that occurred during my barefoot stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge.
I got the idea to walk the world famous suspension bridge from my dad. He twisted his knee lifting a ladder.
He’s not supposed to be climbing ladders to fix second story windows; he’s almost 80. But my dad is almost as stubborn as I am. When I told him I was going to San Francisco, he told me that walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was on his bucket list. I thought to myself, “That’s a damn good idea”.
So the next day, I headed out to the City by the Bay. When I got to the Bridge, clouds fell from the sky, covering the place with a saline haze. But I knew they were no match for California sun. After finding a secret parking spot, I walked past the construction crews with my trusty black converse (excellent minimalist shoes–no heel or arch support). Why with shoes? There was a cop nearby; I didn’t want to get hassled.
At the entrance, I got a few stares as I stuffed my black converse into my backpack. But no one said a thing. Some people didn’t even notice. The pathway was smooth and surprisingly warm. A few carts blasted past me in the bike line honking their horns.
The pedstrian signs painted on the bridge were a hoot. They have a have man wearing a suit and hat with a little girl whose hair is in a bun.
The manic energy of the place flooded my spirit. I skipped the first few steps onto the bridge. The fog was still thick. I couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of me. Traffic blasted near the rail. The close range of the automotive missiles unsettled me. My fate, it seemed, belonged to complete strangers. I favored the ocean side of the bridge–the side that forces person to look down.
When I arrived at the center, thrill of panic fired through me. It was the sensation one gets when automatic writing. There’s a loss of control as something other than yourself moves your body. I gave into the trance state.
I felt myself climb the tiny rail facing the ocean. My eyes gazed downward. No one tried to stop me. There are signs posted everywhere that the bridge is under surveillance, but no secret bridge police appeared and not a single passerby said a thing. An Asian couple stopped, but they just gawked at me. I just stood there on the rail as every jumper has done. I stared at the vicious ocean below. An unforgiving floating shard of glass, the jagged crests sharp, the boulders of water packed solid. It would have been so easy to lean forward just a touch more to drop into the ferocious sea. But as I stood there barefoot in the middle of the Golden Gate perched on the steel beast, a burst of joy overcame me and I laughed loud and hysterically. Effortlessly, I leaned backward and floated down to the side with the white silhouette of the hatted man wearing a suit and holding the hand of the little girl with her hair in a bun. My feet landed softy on the pavement. I walked the rest of the way smiling as the sun evaporated the fog.
“My arms are flung across the deep,
Into the clouds my towers soar,
And where the waters never sleep,
I guard the California shore. ”
–Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer, Golden Gate Bridge
Some Interesting facts about the Golden Gate:
- Eleven men died building the bridge.
- The bridge was conceived by a poet.
- The Golden Gate is NOT Golden or Red; it’s orange vermilion aka “International Orange.” Here’s the recipe: PMS code is 173; the CMYK colors are: C (Cyan): 0%, M (Magenta): 69%, Y (Yellow): 100%, K (Black): 6%.
- The Golden Gate is 1.7 miles long.
- The Bridge is constantly being painted. In fact, they’re hiring painters.