I did, when I was a toddler. Or at least, when I was a pre-schooler.
Now when I say “nightmare,” I don’t mean the kind that makes you wake up screaming in a sweat. When I was a kid, that kind of dream was usually about a witch inspired by the one in “The Wizard of Oz” — only scarier. I’ll tell you about one of those another time.
But the bridge dreams were creepy, and unsettling, and undermined my basic confidence, as a child, in living in a world governed by sensible laws such as gravity.
And I had a bit of a flashback when I saw this Tweet today, from a photog at the Post & Courier:
Throwback traffic going into Charleston over the old narrow two lane Cooper River bridge. pic.twitter.com/yeXXPJfMsk
— Leroy Burnell (@BurnellLeroy) May 14, 2022
Notice how narrow it was? Notice how it kept rising in a way that could be really disturbing to a little kid riding in a car driven by an otherwise trustworthy adult?
It kept rising, and rising, leaving the Earth far behind, abandoned…
Anyway, I would have these dreams in which I’d be riding in a car climbing up like that, rising and rising and rising, and then… it wasn’t a bridge anymore. No girders, no solid pavement. It had become a ribbon, no more than an inch wide, and so thin and flexible that it waved about in the thin air as it rose higher and higher…
And that was it. The dream would then fade away (possibly due to imagined oxygen deprivation). Or maybe I would wake up — I don’t remember now. Just not the same way as with the witch dreams. In any case, whether I was awake or asleep at the end, the dream had transported my mind to a very weird place.
I last lived in Charleston when I was about 2. I think these dreams were a couple of years later, and I wasn’t sure where they came from. But I connected them in my mind with “that bridge” my mother would occasionally mention, talking about the great lengths she would go to to avoid having to cross it when we lived down there. And I would think, “that’s the bridge in the dream…”
I wasn’t sure, though. Not until sometime after we moved back to South Carolina in 1987, and one day I had to drive down to Charleston, and for whatever reason had to cross the Cooper, and… it sort of blew my mind. Suddenly, in the strength of my 30s, I was back in that childhood dream, only it was real life. And it felt sort of like the bridge was going to dematerialize under me — because that’s what that bridge did.
I only crossed it a couple of times after that, until the Arthur Ravenel went into operation in 2005.
That one’s nothing. It’s so wide, you don’t even realize you’re up in the air. Acrophobia or no, I can drive back and forth on that one as much as you like.
And I’m glad the old one’s gone…