Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Swear! This is a Life-Affirming Post! Really!

We got a jumper. Just like that. Might as well prefaced her statement with ladies and gentlemen, like some kind of carnie, but she was our bus driver, and I am not mad. Not at her. Or at all. I like to sit in the very first seat of the bus on the passenger side, the windshield so wide and flat in front of me. Oh, I know if there was any sort of accident I would go flying into that windshield like a tomato in a can. Because one time? When I was little? My parents had a friend named Caroline who was in a terrible car accident on the bridge. When we visited her in the hospital I was scared, her eyes so ugly. My mom told me she was a vegetable, but later I heard another grown up say that on impact she had ricocheted inside of her car like a tomato in a can, and a tomato is really a fruit. (As far as I know, Caroline still lives with her parents, the mental capacity of an infant stewed, if she is still alive at all.) I have never understood why there are no seat belts on buses.

Still, I prefer that first seat on the passenger side, the windshield so wide and flat in front of me, like maybe I own it, the bus and the bridge and the sky. Here is a photo I snapped with my phone one morning last week:
Last night the bridge was backed up. What should have taken 15 minutes took almost an hour, and my cell phone was dead. Excuse me? Do you know what's going on? I asked the bus driver lady. A few weeks ago this same bus driver had yelled at me. Quiet down back there! This 'aint no happy hour! I had been talking to a friend and she had laughed, and then we snickered when we got yelled at, both of us children of California in the 70's when Proposition Something took away the state's school buses. It felt funny to be yelled at by a bus driver, like some sort of hackneyed after-school special starring Missy Gold. But last night the bus driver lady was my friend, and so she turned up the volume on her radio. There is a situation on the bridge... And of course I thought of Jersey Shore because I am broken like that.
I asked the woman next to me if I could borrow her phone. Which, on a commuter bus going home in which nobody talks and the hour has been deemed unhappy is kinda' like asking the person next to you if maybe you could borrow her undies. Just for a second? But she let me, and I cupped my hand around the phone as I whispered a message to Bryan real quiet. Then we crawled along around the curve to the toll. Still, we could not see anything.

We got a jumper, she said, matter of fact, which must be a pre-requisite for bus drivers, the part about being matter of fact. How do you know? I asked, because I am more matter of what than anything else, but she just shrugged. That's what they do sometimes, you know? Drive to the middle of the bridge and then just get out and jump. Empty car--jumper. Pshhh, and then she shook her head, it being the height of the commute and all. In front of us they had closed the right lane, and there it was: an older yellow Ferrari without anyone inside. Three police cars behind it, one in front.

I expected more, I think. A crowd peering over the railing, maybe, I don't know. I admit to having looked for years, periods in which I crossed the bridge twice each day. It's habit, to scan for someone walking alone. Does he look depressed? What's in his backpack? Who is she calling? The friend of a friend, a guy her husband grew up with, the photo of the girl on the desk of the woman I temped for years ago. The bridge a symbol of San Francisco and Something Else.

One day years ago a man bought a yellow Ferrari and felt happy. I am assuming it was a man because men buy Ferraris, and I am assuming that he was happy. That maybe he felt he had made it with the purchase of that car. And then something must have happened, right? And then something else. Something again, again, more until the man no longer felt happy or anything at all, and one day he drove across the bridge and stopped his yellow Ferrari mid-span and jumped. And then what?

I think about these things too often, what happens first and why and next. Not so much because searching for a reason matters, but because searching makes it whole.
Real. Maybe you think me macabre, and sometimes I do worry this is the case. How I drive over the bridge and look at the people walking alone. What is it? Who are they? The fog whipping through the gates like that. How is life so fucking unbelievably beautiful and so gut-wrenchingly empty at the exact same time? The moment it takes to slam a yellow Ferrari into park, and how I want to swallow it all to understand.

If you are anything like me you need to see this movie. Fair warning: it is intense and disturbing. Happy Wednesday. Seriously. :)

xoxo,
S

19 comments:

Misplaced Country Girl said...

That was amazing. I feel like I need a cigarette.

krista said...

i've had that movie sitting on our dvd shelf for almost two years.
i swear i'll get around to watching it one day.

sanctuaryhome said...

When I got that movie from Netflix a few years ago, I felt like they were going to put me on some sort of list. It was very interesting and well done.

miss. chief said...

Yes and you want to tell them to hang on, but it's none of your business. ANd I hope I never have to understand what's going through their heads...
That zebra picture is tripping me out.

Court said...

Wow. What a post!

sherri said...

wow. i want to see that film but not sure if i can. we had a friend jump off of a parking deck to his death a few years ago. that trailer made my chest hurt but I'm like you - I want to make sense of these kinds of things. Besides, I love a damn documentary.

Sarah - La Jeune Marie said...

Wow. That is really sad.

Amanda said...

"How is life so fucking unbelievably beautiful and so gut-wrenchingly empty at the exact same time?" I always feel like if I had this answer my life would be complete . . . but then I realize it isn't healthy to dwell on the things we will probably never understand, and that symmetry of splendor and absolute bull shit is perhaps what makes life worthwhile.

A Perfect Gray said...

thanks for giving light to some things I keep in the dark

Kwana said...

So sad but thanks for the post.

kristacular said...

Just moved to the city about a month ago, and the bridge gives me the heebie jeebies! Just like you said! So beautiful but definitely tortured.
It's like an friendly giant who keeps stepping on people while trying to help them!!? I don't know. But I can't help but love it.

mosey along said...

I'm not sure if I could watch that film, even though I love documentaries. My hubby was in that same traffic last night while I waited to go out with a friend. When he called and said that traffic was terrible and there was an accident, I immediately said in my head somebody jumped.

Richie Designs said...

of course the hyper sensitive me thinks wow I could never just throw my car in park on a bridge to kill myself.

I would worry that all that traffic would back up and inconvenience people on their drives. I would have walked it myself but then that's a horrible thought too.

you can't win for over analyzing something of the sort.

blessings to yellow ferrari guy.

Rachael Lisa said...

Wow. Great post. I couldn't have said it better myself then your comment of - "How is life so fucking unbelievably beautiful and so gut-wrenchingly empty at the exact same time?"
It is so crazy to think of the amazing things that happen to people everyday, and at those same moments people are jumping off bridges. It baffles me. I think that Joseph Conrad puts it best, that it is "the fascination of the abomination" that makes us think about these things. I just don't think I/we will ever understand.

AppleTree said...

don't be a tomatoe. sit in the second seat at least.

Rolerkite said...

I saw the film in a family studies class in college. I have been strangely intrigued with the bridge's uncanniness ever since.

boops said...

when i visited san francisco 1.5 years ago i stayed with a woman who worked in a psych. office. there was a patient who had hurled himself off the golden gate bridge and on the way down, changed his mind. he'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. i'm not sure if this is life-affirming but it certainly makes you think about the nature of life and death, if you don't already.

Patois said...

When I was crossing the bridge every day to and from work at an ungodly morning hour and a fairly late evening hour, and when I was most in need of getting out of that (first) marriage of mine, I would imagine crossing the divide. I am selfish, but never selfish enough to do that, surely killing someone else in the process.

Then this radio host jumped. And I knew it was time for me to give those thoughts a rest.

A hell of a movie to watch. A hell of a pain to experience.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Found you via The Claw. Yep, that movie is on my list too (hulu) been meaning to watch it for awhile. It's not that I'm waiting for the right mood, I just haven't gotten around to it. In reference to Krista's comment, the movie that's been sitting on the shelf for almost 2 years, unwatched is "An Inconvenient Truth."