mapquest said it would take me four hours and forty seven minutes. a fourteen mile walk punctuated by a five mile ferry ride to see f2fb friend #317 michele piersiak. i sometimes do an eight mile walk around the perimeter of winnetka, so i figured it couldn’t be that bad.
oh how wrong i was. my theory about new yorkers is that they do fifty three terrifying things and that’s before they get to work. i didn’t expect to be scared in quite this way.
the williamsburg bridge is the seventy-fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, which makes any american immediately say “pshaw! there are seventy four others that are much tougher!” still, i got stuck along the 1600 span that towered over the water. i couldn’t move forward and couldn’t move back. this happened three times. each time, i had a vision of me being the homeless chick who lives on the williamsburg bridge, unwilling to leave or to move. accepting handouts and generally letting personal hygiene take a backseat. i’d be an object of pity, scorn, and perhaps curiosity. i’d feed pigeons. i would have several pet rats who would be attracted by my pungent body odor. i’d lash myself to the bridge during storms. i’d lose my cell phone!
i had to get unstuck. i was so scared my feet had fallen asleep and if i didn’t get moving the legs would be the next to go. i started saying thank you. thank you to the rain. thank you to the shoes i was wearing. thank you to the guy who had helped when the mapquest directions were just a bit . . . off. thank you even to mapquest. i said thank you to my facebook friends, pausing only briefly as i realized the reason i was going across the bridge was to meet f2fb friend #317 who had introduced herself on facebook. i thanked american airlines for getting me to new york. i thanked whoever built the bridge (later i learned construction on the bridge began i n1896 with henry hornsbotal as the chief architect and leffert buck as his engineer)
as i approached the end of the bridge i felt an odd exhileration. and it wasn’t just relief. it was a sense that i was buoyed up by all the people i had thanked, even by henry and leffert although at that point i didn’t know their names.
and i got off that bridge and found the staten island ferry . . . thanks to five different new yorkers who made me think that new yorkers are the friendliest people on earth! i thank them too!
i didn’t expect to get choked up by the staue of liberty, so i sat on the side of the ferry that does not get the view of the statue. but as we approached, i couldn’t help myself. statue of liberty, dollface, i’m grateful to you!
and so i was wrong. it could be that bad. and yet, it also could be wonderful!
May 10th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
You know the saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”? Well…the Williamsburg Bridge is huge, but hey, it’s shorter than a thousand miles!!!! You might want to think of it that way. So happy you made it across!! 🙂
May 10th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
This probably one of my most favorite posts, videos included as you walked across your fears, and came out on a ferry! You ARE so amazing, so inspiring. It really encourages me to get past my fears too (all 53 of them :D). Thank you soo much for being our brave warrior who reminds us of the courage amongst our fears. 😀
Hugsss and love!!!
May 10th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
P.S. I also LOVE the thanks you give as I read that in a book once too, that we need to thank each and everything that is present in our lives. (Katherine Woodward Thomas, “Calling in the One”.
May 10th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
It’s like the statue f liberty was there just for you! And I lol’ed at the humorous way you described your fears of beig stuck there. Great post!
May 10th, 2012 at 9:42 pm
that’s adorable and true about the statue of liberty! thanks carlybeth!
May 11th, 2012 at 6:39 pm
yw! love your blog! (i am a mild agoraphobe myself 🙂 )
May 10th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
I appreciate that you shared your [feelings] in this post.
You talked about how you got stuck on the bridge three times and at first I thought that you were talking about being [stuck] in traffic but after I watched the video clip,…I realized that you walked across the bridge and got mentally and physically “frozen” on the bridge due to panic….!!!
Thank you Arlynn for sharing this real-world emotional experience,….the kind of experience / panic that can derail a relationship, employment, dates, social activities,..etc.,..when it happens on a regular impromptu basis.
Believe you me,….I’ve personally had all of these situations derailed due to arbitrary anxiety.
Howard Lovely, Jr.
May 10th, 2012 at 9:42 pm
weird thing is that i didn’t realize i was going to be scared on the bridge until i was already there. and those new yorkers are just tooling along like it’s perfectly normal to be on a suspension bridge that was, until 1924, the longest suspension bridge in the world! over a highway of cars. next to a train track. over the water. i admire new yorkers!
May 10th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
[…] yes, Scotiabank’s line, but this is what ArlynPresser reminded me in her blog with amazing video of her crossing a bridge of fears, and coming out on the […]
May 10th, 2012 at 5:47 pm
I just wanted to add that it’s awesome you put this up here to educate the rest of us. Hearing that people are having panic attacks is one thing; seeing it happen to a friend is something else entirely and packs a wallop! Bravo again that you kept going forward!
May 10th, 2012 at 9:40 pm
that’s basically what my day is like every day. there’s usually something that makes me panic and it’s incredible to me that there are lots of people who are exactly like i was on that bridge every time they leave their houses. i was like that.
May 18th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Arlynn, when i saw an email from a blog i subscribe to that posted a youtube link to f2fb trailor, all i needed was to read the description. I then said WOW subconsciously out loud…the whole office looked at me.
I am a New Yorker and I suffered from agoraphobia. Last April on my Birthday I was stuck in my house, If i walked outside my door I would get gripping panic, but i did anyway.
Eventually I met someone special and she helped me overcome my barriers. All medication free, just sheer power of will, motivation, practice and patience.
I now get stuck in traffic on a daily basis coming from work. I fall asleep in tunnels and have no problem on bridges. I’ve gone on ski lifts and snowboarding trips. Stayed at hotels and a house in the middle of a snowed in forest.
All of this within one year.
I can’t live life in fear.
It really is all about stepping over that boundary, because when you do, you teach your brain something new.
I am very motivated and inspired by you.
May 19th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
i totally understand. the first panic attack is always the one we remember perfectly. i didn’t expect to be that scared on the bridge. but i’m glad that you have been able to move beyond panic attacks. i haven’t yet, but i try every day!
May 21st, 2012 at 12:29 pm
i’m very glad for you that you have gotten free of your barriers. truly, love is a wonderful thing!