As Baby Boomers, I’m sure we all have elusive memories. That something that we just can’t quite remember. But I have a memory that’s been elusive since I was 7 years old. I don’t remember an entire weekend, I’ve blotted out most of it except for a fear of bridges…..or should I say, one bridge in particular.
For years, this bridge was in my nightmares. And every time I traveled somewhere and saw that a bridge was coming up, I would start to panic, until I saw which bridge it was. This happened often with the Tappenzee Bridge over the Hudson. There are signs for the bridge long before you see it and the panic would build up until finally the bridge came into sight and I would breathe a sigh of relief. My sister knew I had a fear of bridges she would laugh at my panic when we were traveling to Maine and I saw the sign for the Piscataqua River Bridge. Luckily the bridge looms up right away and I see it’s not the bridge of my nightmares. (Although I still have a favorite nickname for that bridge the Piss You Out River Bridge.)
Sis asked me once why I feared bridges so much and I told her that I have nightmares about a bridge and that I panic until I see the bridge. Once I see it’s not the bridge of my nightmares, then I calm down. I’ve traveled a lot of bridges over the years. Many on a regular basis, including the Piscataqua, the Tappenzee, the George Washington (where the large potholes make you wonder why your tires aren’t falling through the bridge!) I love the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel (isn’t it fun to travel across a bridge and then spot a hole in the ocean and realize you’re going into that hole?) I’ve even been on the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys (love!) without a twitch. But to this day, I have to see the bridge before I relax.
When I told my sister that I had nightmares about a particular bridge, she said, “I know why.” As simple as that. We had just crossed over the Piss You Out River Bridge and for the first time in more than 35 years, I was going to learn why I had nightmares about bridges.
Back in the 1960’s my sister dated someone who grew up on Long Island, living in a mansion with a butler. Fancy huh? One weekend, there was a party and my sister wanted to attend. Now, either I pouted at her until she decided to take me or my parents wouldn’t let her go unless she took me, but either way, I went. I was around 6 or 7 at the time and must have been excited to go, but to this day, I remember nothing about the entire trip except what lives in my nightmares.
My sister had a little red Volkswagen at the time, not a Beetle but still a small car. We went by way of the Throgs Neck Bridge, which opened the same year I was born. Apparently, it was a windy day, so windy that as my sister drove, the car was blown from one lane of the bridge into the next. She says that ours was the last car off of the bridge that day, that it was closed after that. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I can’t remember how I felt in the car that day, I can only tell you how I feel in the nightmare–pure panic and terror. During the real ride, I must have felt like our car was being blown right off of the bridge because, in the nightmare, that’s what happens.
Even now, after my sister told me, I don’t remember. I don’t remember the mansion, or the butler or the expensive croquet set on the well kept back lawn. Nothing. She is the keeper of my elusive memory. Has anyone else had an elusive memory, a day or few days or even longer blotted out because of fear? Does it tease you in your dreams or nightmares like mine?