Many people who know me know a little something about me. I have a fear of driving over bridges. It used to be just an uneasiness of walking over bridges, but when I got my first car four years ago, it turned into a fear of driving over them, at least the ones that go over large bodies of water that for me aren’t a piece of cake like the ones nearby where I live.
I’ve had people ask me questions like “T.J., how can you be afraid to drive over a bridge?”, “Aren’t there bridges in Sacramento?”, and “If millions of people can drive over them daily, why can’t you?”, I will answer all these questions right here,right now.
The day was Oct. 17,1989 and a devastating earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay Area that registered 6.9 on the Richter scale, damaging many buildings, destroying many roadways, killing and injuring innocent people, and postponing a World Series. During that earthquake, a piece of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed and crashed onto the lower level. Nearly 22 years later, that image is still in my brain,and it has appeared time and time again everytime I approach a Bay Area bridge. I worry that another earthquake will happen the moment I start driving over the bridge and my car will fall into the bay with myself and whoever dares to ride with me.
Yes, the Sacramento area has many bridges, but none of them nearly as big as the bridges in the Bay Area. Plus, I’m not fearful of an earthquake happening in my area anytime soon because,well, they don’t happen here. Ever. The worst roadway for me is the W-X freeway where four lanes become eight going westbound and it takes forever to merge over if you want to get to I-5. The W-X sucks!
And finally, I thought I had this fear under control. Back in September, I went to a Giants game with my friend Adam,and on our way to the BART station in Walnut Creek, we went over the Benicia bridge and did so without incident and fear, same with on the way home. Three days later on the way to Oakland, I went with two other people over the Carquinez bridge and found it to be a smooth ride,same with the way back. I did it, I conquered my bridge fear once and for all. I am the smartest man alive! Or so I thought…
Fast forward to January of this year and on a solo trip to Dublin, I went back over the Benicia bridge and those images of 1989 reappeared and I was shellshocked the rest of the way there. I couldn’t handle going over it again, so I took Interstate 580 back to Interstate 5 going home. I got back to where I was before and haven’t been back to the Bay Area since much to the disappointment of not only some friends of mine, but myself as well. I’m almost 30 years old, I should certainly be able to do this. It’s a fear that although it hasn’t existed long (at least as a driver, as a passenger I’m fine, someone else is driving), I want to be able to conquer it and it would be shameful if I wasn’t able to.
I know this isn’t very sports related and I try not to write columns about myself, but overcoming adversity is not only a part of sports,but a part of life. If we don’t overcome our own fears or adversity itself, we live in fear forever and life passes us by. Challenges should be welcomed, not evaded. If a challenge is important enough to you, I hope you do what I will try and do soon, take it on and hope for the best. Best of luck to all of us!