On the Brooklyn Bridge

I’m writing you from my couch at 5:30am with my dog growling at me to pet or play with him like he does every morning when I dare do anything from the seated position besides scratch his ears or tug his rope.

I’m very happy.

I feel like there was so much I didn’t tell you about New York City and hopefully as I scroll through pictures I’ll think of things to write about, but for now I’m going to write about home. And how this strange peace has settled over me since we’ve been back.

Party of me thinks it’s just that – relative to NYC, my home now seems so very peaceful. That it’s hard to not find calm in silence after 8 days without it. I drove to Target yesterday and when I looked in my rearview mirror I could not see another car on the road in front of, or behind me, and it was almost unsettling. There were cars on every road all hours of the day in Manhattan, and we were only on the 10th floor of our hotel so we could also hear honking and sirens throughout the night. In comparison Huntsville is almost…lifeless.

But part of me feels like it’s something deeper. Like there was a big flush of my anxiety settings in NYC. It was like an unintentional weeklong immersion therapy session and I’ve come back feeling like the source of my anxiety was rebooted and my triggers are all set different now.

Will this be permanent? I have no idea. But for right now my baseline anxiety level is much lower and the things that push me seem much less sensitive.

Honestly…it’s a bit unsettling as well.

I did spend a lot of time thinking about my anxiety in NYC…for obvious reasons. An example is when I insisted we turn around before completely crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, Donnie and I were discussing my fears and he said, “There’s no way you would fall into the river because the road below was wider than the pedestrian part.” And I had to correct him, “Oh…that wasn’t my fear. I was having very vivid visions of the bridge collapsing underneath us after decades of underfunded infrastructure in our country.”

And that was almost putting it mildly. My panic was vivid and intense and VERY VERY DETAILED and no amount of breathing techniques – which got me out of most of my NYC panic – helped so we just had to turn around before I curled up in the fetal position in the bike lane.

And that’s when I realized that this is why people like me don’t seek out roller coasters or skydiving or other “thrill” type activities…because we get that rush of adrenaline from our overactive imaginations when confronted with anxiety triggers.

The effects on my body are the same as jumping out of a plane…my heart was racing, my breath was shallow, my adrenaline was surging, my palms were sweaty and I didn’t breathe easy again until we were back in City Hall Park. I was frustrated because my favorite bridge in the world is the pedestrian bridge in Chattanooga and I really didn’t think it would be much different but the Brooklyn Bridge sits about 30 feet higher above the water and is MUCH MORE CROWDED. Also? It was the added cars that had my brain processing infrastructure funding and just thinking, “HOW CAN THIS BRIDGE HANDLE SO MANY CARS AND PEOPLE EVERY DAY AND NOT COLLAPSE?”

Anyway…Brooklyn Bridge was a fail. And it was one of the things I was most excited about, to be honest! Because of my affinity for the Walnut Street Bridge. But evidently you add cars and my joy disappears, which actually checks out because one of my driving panics is crossing bridges which I assumed disappeared when I was on foot but evidently still remains if OTHER people are driving across the bridge while I’m walking it.

Maybe after I settle back into my life and the memories of surfing through crowds and loud noises and intense traffic and subways all fade, maybe then my anxiety level will creep back to pre-NYC levels. But for now? I’m enjoying the reboot the city gave me. I’m enjoying the perspective shift.

3 thoughts on “On the Brooklyn Bridge”

  1. I get this “reboot” – I grew up in the middle of Kansas so it feels like it shouldn’t happen – but I experience the same when we go somewhere quiet or out of the way. In my mind, the scarcity of people, the lack of commune, feels totally frightening and my anxiety levels go through the roof. All I can think of is if something happened how long it might be before someone noticed, or could get help. (Albeit I had an accident on my in-laws’ ranch which made all my UNfounded fears real and now it’s absolutely out of control. SIgh.) But when I return home there’s a sense of safety and peace and even joy that I find because of that dichotomy of experience. It’s one of the reasons I love traveling so much. The energy of a place, the change of place, gives me new insights into my psyche and how to handle things – even when I’m not traveling.

  2. Bridges are evil. Especially those that arc into the air. Like the one into Guntersville, or into Decatur. The rainbow bridge from Buffalo to Niagara falls, Cn is frightening, but I had to suck it up or my husband and a friend would have been stuck in Canada after running the Skylon Marathon. I figured it was genetic, because my sister is also afraid of them. I talked her through the Rainbow bridge. I talked her into driving to B-ham to see my daughter when she visited once. We got to Decatur, and she wait a minute, you didn’t mention the bridge. When I was younger I used to think it was fun to ride on the lift bridges on the Erie canal, but they didn’t go high. And – no- no roller coasters or tunnels unless my eyes are shut, which lets out driving.. I remember asking my Dad if we go to Michigan by going through the Welland tunnel which goes under one of the Great Lakes. He said no- so we must have gotten the DNA from him

  3. Oh I hate driving on bridges! Not so much a fear of them collapsing, but mine is a fear of flying off the edge and crashing into whatever lies below. I too get the racing heart and sweaty palms on bridges.
    But you did get a great picture with the bridge in the background.

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