panic at williamsburg bridge!

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!

14 responses to “panic at williamsburg bridge!

  • carolynquinn

    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!! 🙂

  • Pink Ninjabi

    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!!!


  • Pink Ninjabi

    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”.

  • CarlyBeth's Blog

    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!

  • howardlovelyjr


    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.

    • arlynnpresser

      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!

  • You’re Richer Than You Think | Pink Ninjabi

    […] 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 […]

  • carolynquinn

    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!

    • arlynnpresser

      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.

  • shakezilla

    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.

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