Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What the fuck is that? Egg babies?

New York, Pt. 3 

I saw a video on the internet of a guy hopping around subway tunnels and the Williamsburg bridge.  I pass over the same bridge many times and think climbing it would be a cool thing to do.  I set it as a goal for before I leave.

I've been tired and getting over my body attempting to be sick.  I don't particularly want to do it, but feel I no longer have a choice as I've devoted myself to the idea.  I leave Olivia's at one.  I ride to the bridge and lock my bike to the railing on the cycling path, near the intersection of the pedestrian and bike paths.  I cross to the pedestrian side with the lesser traffic and head to the supports.  A few people pass by, but not enough for me to wait long.

I hop over the fence onto the trusses and crawl up, pulling myself through the intersections between them. My camera rests on my back and hits the girders as I move through.  Two stories up I'm able to bypass the barrier blocking the stairwell and use it the rest of the way.  I wait in the corners for breaks in traffic to climb, lest some overzealous cab or truck driver calls me in. There are two dead birds on the walkway.  I can't determine if they were killed by a bird of prey or by running into the bridge.  

I reach the top of the stairwell and find the ladder leading to the top of the bridge is locked.  I hold a keychain light between my teeth as I try to open the combination lock reading "7777."  "0000" doesn't work, and I try some easily identifiable numbers to no avail.  I think about going through the 9,999 combinations to get to the top, but get frustrated and quit in the first hundreds.  In the space through the latch I see graffiti from those who succeeded in getting where I couldn't.  I wonder if they knew the combination or if it was added after their visit.

I sit on the cat walk and chief, just to say I did.  I begin taking pictures and stabilize my camera on the railing and my leg.  It's difficult to get low light pictures of the city on rounded, shaky surfaces.  After the novelty of being up there wears off, I head down.  I hop down the stairs, pausing again with the flow of traffic.  I nearly step on one of the birds in my rush on the way down.

I transfer from the stairs to truss.  I have trouble determining how I should get through the gaps in the girders.  I hang my camera in front of me and lower myself through.  Halfway down a truss, a meter maid drives down the path in their buggy.  I'm high enough to be out of sight and wait on the steel beam, giving the meter maid what I think is enough time to pass.  I climb down and jump over the fence.  My fall shakes the path.  I look over to see the meter maid's tricycle idling as he talks to two guys.  There's no place along the path I could have been to get behind him without passing me.  I immediately break out running in the opposite direction.  I realize this is more suspicious than the sound of my landing and start walking.  I continue to alternate between running and walking as I distance myself from the buggy.  It's too late to seem inconspicuous, but he isn't chasing me either.

I come to an opening in the path out of sight of the meter maid.  I contemplate jumping the fence again to walk down some stairs.  I don't know if it dead ends and decide against it.  Once completely out of sight, I break into a sprint.  I think about how much further I can run on account of this trip and about how far behind me that meter maid might be.  

I reach the end of the pedestrian path and retreat to the park at its end.  I stash my paraphernalia behind some vines in a corner and sit at a bench.  I take off my beanie and open my jacket.  I text a friend in preemptive celebration of my accomplishment.  The meter maid does a circle around the park.  He sees me and stops.  I look up and then back down to the text conversation indicting me of my actions.  He passes and I collect my goods and walk to my bike.  I ride back and get lost for an hour, but am glad I'm not arrested.  I think about the association between drug use and risk taking behavior.  That night I dream about people breaking their legs falling.

Drug Use and Risk Taking Behavior 

Drug use, beyond its bullshit spiritualism, is related to a change in perception.  The adrenaline and stress of an illegal or dangerous activity is a perception altering experience similar to drug use.  It is a feeling beyond that of common experience.  There are not many normal conditions that are life threatening or require hypervigilance.  Climbing unsuspended above a a highway is a good reminder of one's mortality.  Normal thought does not include the prospect of death or danger, so those that do cause an appropriate physiological response.  I don't know how often they do drugs, but thrill seekers always claim to do it "for the rush" or whatever cliche they're using now.

Deviation from the normal form of cognition is novel and engaging.  Often, risky behaviors and drug use come with the some rudimentary understanding of the risks involved.  Without any statistical or experimental data or the desire to find any to back it up, I think those more inclined to dangerous or risky behaviors are more inclined to drug use, and vice versa.

It was not only necessary for me to climb the Williamsburg bridge, but I felt I should smoke atop it as well.  Doing dangerous things or being high is removed from normal perception.  Alcohol has the benefit of legality, but everything else has the added benefit of risk.  The fear of being caught is as perceptually altering as the drugs themselves.  One of my most memorable moments now comes from an underpaid douche in a tricycle and the prospect of my essence smeared along the road.

New York Kill Count
Rat: 1
Small Bird: 3

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