Open Your Golden Gate

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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..."


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.

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is a writer living in Lafayette.