A while ago I read an article in The New Yorker about the popularity of the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide destination. Apparently the allure is the chance of success; while only twelve per cent of drug overdoses result in death, jumping off a bridge is “almost always fatal”. However, the huge discrepancy between the number of jumpers from the Golden Gate bridge (where somebody jumps on average once a fortnight) and the nearby Bay bridge suggested to the article’s researchers that there was a certain romanticism attached by a lot of people to jumping – specifically – from the Golden Gate.
The article also sought to talk to the few people who had survived the jump. Since jumping from a bridge has a reputation for working, they assumed that the jumpers had really wanted to die. So the writers wanted to know: did they regret it? The answers surprised me, and one man’s response in particular stuck in my memory: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
Around the same time, I saw Gone With The Wind for the first time. I became a bit obsessed with Scarlet O’Hara; her tragic delusions of grandeur and the tragic romanticism of jumping from the Golden Gate bridge got tied up in my mind, and I wrote this.
Gone With The Wind
Thoughts from the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Four seconds later, I imagine, when I arrive,
I’ll cleave the water as an Olympic dive.
The wind shall whip my hair; art deco curls
As my martyred body twirls and whirls.
The bridge will blaze a panorama
Rich as the sky behind Scarlet O’Hara.
Like her, I’ll never go hungry again.
This choice will neatly underline my pain.
The watery skirt of my floral dress,
Will wrap me in a last caress.
And though by then I’ll be far away,
For once, I’ll make the news that day.
Falling, at last, the truth hits. BAM!
The world still doesn’t give a damn.