My Secret Fear…I Guess It's Not So Secret After All

I developed a fear of long, tall bridges while I was in college. I don't know why. I didn't have a traumatic experience like driving off a bridge. I just realized that it would be very hard to escape from a plunging car. Over the years, this fear was reinforced by the news. Very few people seem to survive driving off a bridge and, being a news junkie, I've seen a lot of those reports.

Since this seems irrational, I've tried to keep it hid. After all, I try to present myself as a reasonable, mature female. The fear of bridges just screams irrational. My family soon realized this fear. They tried to figure out what caused it. My roots go back deep into Appalachian lore, so I think the consensus was that my mom probably got scared on a bridge while she was pregnant. (Hey, it makes as much sense as most of the theories psycologists would offer…and it was free.)

My husband first became aware of this fear after we were married a few years. We went to Florida to visit my parents. My dad had to map our trip to Tampa around a huge bridge, one of the longest bridges I ever seen. My husband and I both thought it was strange that we were able to enjoy Caladesi Island. The state park is one of America's beautiful beaches. Luckily, it's accessible only by ferry. I had no problem on the boat. Had it been a bridge? No way.

 I thought I might share some of my scariest bridge moments. Some of these may be near you. Perhaps you have a bridge to avoid. These moments also tell our my irrational fear, over the years, became pretty common knowledge.

Big Sur
If you've seen t.v. commercials, you're probably family with this beautiful area of northern California. The bridges are often featured in new car commercials. They're very high and the hug the curves of hills only to open up to miles of completely suspended bridge. There's nothing between you and the rocky Pacific. I didn't know what I was getting into when I agreed to this trip. It was beautiful, but scary.

Anyone who has been to this charming coastal town knows the one I'm talking about…think north, and that nice shopping community with the private beaches. This bridge is basically a roller coaster without the safety railings. I've never been on anything so vertical in my whole life. And of course, some red light changes just as we were at the crest. My first impulse was to get out and walk down. But there wasn't even a sidewalk. I panicked. My husband panicked because he thought I was going to get out of the car and do the very thing that scared me. Needless to say, we found a different motel room south of Charleston that evening.

Hancock County
This is a rural area in Tennessee, near the Kentucky border. People are very friendly…maybe one red light and a Hardee's in town. But, to get there and back, you have to go over a very old, one-lane bridge. The bridge is high in the mountains. I was too scared to look down and see if it was over a stream or a gorge. It doesn't matter. It was terrifying. I had just started my job. We had to go to Hancock County for a meeting. I tried to be brave and I didn't complain. But, as is my habit, I tried to subtly unbutton my seatbelt. My boss then inquired.

So…do you live near one of these bridges? What are the worst bridges you've been across? Is it true I'll never be able to go to the Florida Keyes?

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