Open Your Golden Gate

at 12:35 AM

Growing up in the Bay Area, I always took the Golden Gate Bridge for granted. When I was a kid I walked on the beach, looking at it; the orange coils against the blue sky, sometimes hidden in the fog. It was beautiful. I never imagined it not being there.

Two weeks after 9/11 I was watching the news oh, nine hours a day. I wasn't working, so I was trying to make sense of the senseless. Eleven years later, I still don't have any answers that make sense.

My dad called, suggesting we should walk to Marin via the Golden Gate Bridge. I protested, saying the bridge would be closed. He said it wouldn't. It was either walking with him or watching the news. I threw on a dress and went to the City.

We took the bus. I saw a guard near the bridge. I knew we couldn't walk. Sure enough, the guard told us that no pedestrians allowed. I felt crabby. What a waste of time. The next bus wasn't due for a half hour. Dad put his arm around me, suggesting we go sit for a while. Sure, fine, whatever.

We sat on a bench near beautiful purple flowers. I put my head on Dad's shoulder. The bridge was so beautiful. In my head I heard Jeanette McDonald's voice singing "San Francisco, open your Golden Gate..."

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The bridge meant hope. In the middle of the Great Depression, it was built, giving people jobs and people hope when hope was scarce. I knew then I had to stop being scared something bad was going to happen. I just had to live. I didn't have to be anywhere. I only had to sit with my dad and look at the bridge. For the first time in weeks, I felt very calm. I knew the Golden Gate would never leave me outside its door.

With a Perspective, I'm Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons.

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Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is a writer living in Lafayette.

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