I have a vision of my life – I am walking across a rope bridge, so high up, I can feel clouds and moisture. At first, I’m strapped in, held up by my Dad’s strong hands and by some force from above. I feel light, and I put almost no weight on the bridge at all. The ropes are tightly woven – more like a smooth tatami mat. As I walk, I must put more and more weight on the bridge, and the ropes get thicker and shift farther away from one another. I start holding on tightly to the side ropes, trying to reclaim the light feeling from before. The clouds now feel heavy and gray, and every so often, my foot slips through. I have to react quickly to catch myself. My heart races – my vision goes blurry. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t have the skills. I start to shake. The other side is so far away, and the space below feels endless. I lose a shoe. It drops into the abyss and it’s gone. Shit. What good is one shoe? So I kick the other one off, because it’s just gonna keep me unbalanced. I try to pretend I’m light and nimble. Jack Be Nimble. Jack Be Quick. Jack Jump Over the Candlestick. Act as if I am carefree and hop along the bridge. I’ll just keep my eyes closed and pretend I’m free and light and that I’m having fun – I don’t even need to hang on. I slip and catch myself, rope burns ripping into my calves, shredding my hands. Keep going. Ignore the pain. Act as if. I’m having fun, remember? If I keep looking up and dancing, no one will know I’m terrified. I don’t even see the flesh tearing from my bones – I can choose to believe it’s not happening. I fall again and again – now I’m burned and bloodied all over – but I hold on fiercely to the brave face. I’ve twisted my ankle, wrenched every muscle in my shoulders, and sharp fibers pierce my skin everywhere. I shake all the time. I am scrabbling to get across, but sometimes I just stop. I lie on the ropes in pain, trembling and watching the spots behind my eyelids. Lying in the dark, in pain, alone, with no hope for progress feels better than going further in the dark – from somewhere deep inside, I know I can’t stay down here. Can’t keep going, can’t stop — a solemn, hopeless terror.
At some point, I force myself up. If I don’t move, I’m going to die here. Through the mist, I see a fleeting sparkle of something. Fireflies? I hear one voice . . . then many. We’re here. We’re here. Come this way. Little spots on each rope light up, like the keys on the giant floor piano at FAO Schwartz, and I start to tiptoe my way forward. As I step, the voices become notes, and cool air fills my lungs. Music fills the space with each step I take, and the ropes feel strong and dry and safe, not slippery anymore.
Soon, strings made of light appear all around me from above. As I move forward, tapping bass notes with my feet, I reach up and gently tug different strings to release all of the notes in the treble clef. Melodies and trills and funny bird sounds swoop all around. I’m laughing and dancing, when the great space around me calls back, echoing my joy, surrounding me with softness and possibility.
The bridge melts away, and I am held in light.