SF DAY 5 – Biking down the bridge of the Bay (and assorted melodic whistling)

At Fisherman’s Wharf, there are beaches and piers and stuff, yeah. But I get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, and that’s where my heart is. The guide says you can rent a bike and ride the whole way up there, so I rent a bike to a nice upbeat lady at Blazing Saddles, and off I go. It’s a good bike, light, great gears, easy to ride. The weather is perfect, sunny and clear. The ride to the bridge is great, you get the scenic route along the water, the marina and beaches. But listen, it’s not because the guide says you can, that you should. This is not fun, okay? My legs are lead, my lungs are burning, my hands and wrists are cramping. I should exercise more. 

I brave the ascension of the hill that’s going to get me to the bridge, get lost in the middle of the pedestrians for a while, and then that’s it. I am here, on the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge almost never existed. The army was going to put an end to the project for being too crazy and build a yellow monstrosity in its place, but the engineers went ahead without the army’s authorization, and that’s why we now have what San Franciscans call the “most famous bridge in the world”. Fun fact: this is the bridge with the highest suicidal rate of all, which I find weird because, hello, Brooklyn Bridge.

I stop at a relatively empty patch of bridge, take in the view, consider the enormity of that fact. I, Mandooks, am on the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco. I made it all the way up here. The city on one side, Sausalito on the other, Alcatraz in the middle, the water below, the sky all around me. I can feel the bridge vibrate with the passing cars and the force of the wind.

Watching the ships roll in, then I’ll watch ’em roll away again. I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away, sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time.

Listening to this song again, I cry a little bit, again. I cry for the twenty-five year old who wanted this and had no idea what exactly she wanted and what it would take and what was ahead. I cry for myself, today, who has no idea what comes next. I cry for the twenty-seven year old, and the fourteen year old and the seventeen year old. All those lives that I lived, all those people that I was. I cry for the twenty year old who celebrated her birthday with her sister in Lisboa. I cry for the tension accumulated from doing this alone, for the hours of waiting, for my cramping calves and for the missed opportunities. I cry for what’s to come.

I put on Limousine. Even though it has now entered the realm of problematic songs, it is still, at it’s very core, cathartic. I hold onto the bridge with my hands, white on blood orange. This is it. People pass by me, like a movie montage where one object stays put and the cars and people passing by are blurs of color on the edge of consciousness.

Yeah you were right about me, but can I get myself out from underneath this guilt that will crush me, and in the choir I saw a sad messiah. He was bored and tired of my laments, said ‘I died for you one time but never again’

I get back on my bike, the lane is much less crowded after a while. It’s a smooth, peaceful ride to the other side.

SONG CREDITS: Sittin on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding + Limousine (MS rebridge) – Brand New