My husband Brendan along with two of my children jumped again and again. Our friends did the same. After an hour or two, Brendan cocked his head the way he might have when we first dated twenty years ago and asked, "Do you want to give it a try?"
"No, I'm fine."
"But it's such great fun, are you sure?"
But after a minute I followed Brendan, my son and some of our friends to the middle of the bridge, while the rest of them watched from the beach, holding cameras.
It was the rail and not the bridge that looked high to me. The empty rail span in front of me was wet, covered with sand. My husband held out his hand, easing me onto the first of the four rungs. My other foot made it to the next rung, but that was as far as I got. Awash with anxiety, I got down, disgust lining my face.
I remained on the bridge for close to half an hour, not really thinking about why I was still up there. I stepped back and watched dozens of people, ages six to sixty, jump from the bridge. I studied careful placement of feet and hands and sober faces prickled with self-doubt. Eventually I returned to the beach.
Years ago, I remember skiing just after learning of Sonny Bono's death. A self-defined tentative, late-in-life skier, I was still pretty fancy-free, married but without kids. After Sonny's accident, every tree on the hill loomed like a patient beast, waiting to define my mortality. Today, the bridge was just as patient.