So if your friends jumped off a bridge, you would too?
Okay maybe not jump, but climb at least.
This past week something happened that I never saw coming. An unknown experience took me to an unexpected destination. I thought it was a time of pure adventure but it seems that it ended up being a bad mix of fun and curiosity. Nonetheless what happened, happened. I cannot fix it & I have come to a bittersweet conclusion about the events that occurred.
It’s 10 p.m. on a Sunday night when my friend convinced me to stop by his friend’s apartment in DTLA. We didn’t have much to do so I was up for it. We got to the apartment just in time to interrupt their plans for the night. The group was on their way to climb a bridge & asked if we wanted to join. It doesn’t really seem like a big deal to me so I’m like sure, okay.
They showed me a picture similar to the one above & I couldn’t begin to comprehend how that was possible. There’s no way anyone would do that. In my mind, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to climb the bridge with them. I had decided that none of us would climb the bridge. In my mind, I was positive that we would get to bridge, pussy-out, & go back home. However, I had just met these people & was unaware that they were completely serious.
We squeeze in the car & head out to Long Beach; there isn’ a single worry in my mind. When we finally arrive in Long Beach & locate the bridge, everyone is finally starting to get in their head that this bridge is fucking huge. However this comes as no surprise to me because I knew what we were expecting as soon as they showed me the picture.
Let me tell you a little something about this bridge. This 2 mile long bridge is the Vincent Thomas Bridge that rises over the port of Los Angeles and will take you from Long Beach to San Pedro. It is 365 ft. high & approximately 35 stories above water. It is also the third largest suspension span bridge in California right after the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It’s presence has been featured on TV, film, and even video games. I don’t mean to be pretentious but it’s kind of a big deal. Which I was for sure to learn by the end of the night.
We finally park the car and start to plan how we’re going to get up there. We all put on our cheap grip gloves provided by a hole in the wall from Chinatown & head over to the bottom of the bridge. We find a small hill on the side of the bridge that we run up to get to the top. At the top of the hill we hop over a small wall & we’re finally on the bridge.
There isn’t much of a sidewalk on the bridge considering it’s part of route 47. The edge we walk along is barely wide enough for our two feet to stand on. Nonetheless we scurry along & rush to the tower on the bridge. When we get to the railing that will take us up to the top of the tower, there is a fence that we need to hop. It becomes a little difficult because traffic is speeding by & we have minimal space.
Over the fence & up they go. I watched as they bravely climbed into the sky. Hands gripping the railing as they cautiously place one foot in front of the other. There is a lot more space on the railing than you would think. The thought of slipping off crossed my mind multiples times but their pace was fast & their bodies were steady. They were pros and I couldn’t believe for a single second that this was happening. I thought about the view and all the glistening lights they were able to see. Just moments before they were in rushing traffic, cars speeding by at 70 mph. However with a gallon of guts & a sliver of strength, they were able to find solitude above the city. A solitude that San Pedro citizens will never know, a view of their city that they will never see.
In that moment, anything felt possible. The Earth looked beautiful & life felt extraordinary. It made me think about how people view the world & how people desire to be “well-traveled.” People always think that “traveling” means hopping on a plane & leaving the country. You haven’t “traveled” if you haven’t been on a plane or haven’t been to *insert tourist destination here*. I think that’s bullshit. Traveling, exploring, adventure: all of these things can start in your backyard. They can start in your neighborhood, city, state, country, etc. You don’t need to go ridiculously far or save tons of money to say that you’ve been somewhere. I truly believe that you can find new things to see no matter where you are. As a simple concept that’s all traveling really is anyway right, seeing new sights? I thought about how they would see a sight that some people will never know. They’ll have a story to tell that people won’t ever be able to fully understand. It didn’t take much planning or cost them a plane ticket. However, it did cost them a trip to jail.
And just like that I was thrown back into reality. I was totally living in this moment when I heard, “STOP. WALK INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET AND STEP TOWARDS THE CAR.” I turned around only to be greeted by blinding lights and men in uniform. I thought we were in the clear but yeah, I was wrong. Immediately I think about how fucked I am and how my mom is going to kill me. The officers grabbed me, turned me around, & started to give me all these confusing directions only to put me in cuffs. They searched my bag to find nothing but a Hello Kitty coin purse & a tube of Velvet Teddy. They proceed to ask me questions: accusing me of drinking & demanding to know my intentions. My mind was racing and I stuttered multiple times. They threw my nervous body in the back of the hot, uncomfortable cop car and shut the door. After getting us all together, they reopened the bridge & we drove off with not a clue as to where they would be taking us.
We arrive at the bottom of the bridge; the cops park, & step out of the car. My friends are sure that they’re going to write us a ticket and send us home for the night. The cop opens my door and request for me to step out of the car. He questions me again demanding to know why we were on the bridge. I explained to him that we had no intentions of harm or suicide, all we wanted to do was get some cool pictures. We had seen photos on the internet & wanted to take pics of our own. All it was is art for art’s sake.
After questioning all of us, the cop got back into the car & informed us that we would be going in for the night. I was so confused and scared about what was happening. I really could not believe I was going to jail.
I lead the way as all six of us walked single file line into the CHP office, faces glum & hands in cuffs. Immediately all eyes were on us. We were pretty much six shiny achieved trophies to all the officers in the building. I’m sure the officers that took us in felt like the business. Right as we walked into the back room, there was a shirtless man that was completely wasted. His bright blue eyes stuck out of his sunken scabby face. His minimal amount of hair wasn’t as bad as minimal amount of teeth that chattered every time he spit out drunken words of nonsense. Just the sight of him let me know that I was in for a long, long night.
Technically, we were caught by CHP so they didn’t really know what to do with us. Apparently most people that climb the bridge jump off so they didn’t even know what type of citation to write us up with. The booking process was so long because everyone was so confused by what we had done. We weren’t drunk, had no weapons, no bombs, & no spray paint. The only thing that was wrong in the situation was the whole trespassing aspect. All in all, CHP wasn’t too mad about what had went on. They just thought we were idiots. Which is fair, I guess. Truthfully we had a pretty good time with them. We listened to Fetty Wap & even talked about getting 18 dummy. It was lit.
Finally after like two or three hours, it was time to head over to Lynwood where we would be spending the night. Much to my surprise, the Lynwood office was full of female officers. We sat down and began to start the final steps of the booking process. As the officers were discussing what the plan was, my friends and I started to chat but were immediately shut up by a female officer. She was a Latina so I knew it was no joke. And that’s how the rest of the night was, no joke. CHP was so nice to us but as soon as we started dealing with LAPD, it was a whole different vibe.
As I walked to the cell my ears were filled with nasty cat-calls from the inmates. The reality of this repulsive reformatory was starting to become all too real. For most of the process, I was a big girl. I held it together and even managed not to shed a single tear but in this moment I could feel my spirits beginning to sink. My CHP officer put an end to all the nasty cat-calls and finally took off my cuffs. Truthfully, I was sad to see my CHP officer leave. I sat on the bench in the holding cell & looked at my wrists that were red & swollen from being cuffed for 3 hours. Thankfully there was another girl in our group so I wasn’t alone in the cell for the rest of the night. Being in the cell was rough but I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t there with me. I truly would have gone crazy.
Finally it comes time to take my mugshot. I had decided that I would try my hardest to take a hot mugshot but I failed immensely. They fingerprinted me & asked me more questions. I gave the officer answers but she seemed rather unimpressed. I guess everyone doesn’t crave adventure or appreciate different forms of art. The officer then walks me over to my official cell & let’s me know that I have four phone calls. The whole night I had been waiting for my phone calls. I desperately wanted to contact a friend so I could let them know that I was alright but most importantly to make sure that the news didn’t get to my mom. Then the officer informs me that I can only call local landlines… THIS MEANS I CAN CALL NO ONE. It’s 2015, who even has a landline anymore? Are you kidding me? With an insane amount of hope I desperately try to call two friends regardless but the calls don’t go through, just like the officer had told me. Whatever. I sit down, eat my cookies, & drink my orange juice remembering that the last time I had eaten had been over 12 hours ago. Being that I was starving, I tried to eat the sorry bologna sandwich that they provided for me. Two bites in & I decided that dogs eat better than this. I grabbed my blanket & rolled up into a little burrito trying to ignore the fact that it was freezing in there. As the night went on, two more girls came in. Both of them were guilty of DUIs. In that moment I decided that trespassing wasn’t too bad of a reason as to why I was spending the night in jail.
I woke up multiple times throughout the night, each time more hopeful than the last that I would be getting out sometime soon. Time is nonexistent in jail and you have no way of really figuring it out. Finally they let my friend go & I thought that I would be next. However, time passed & I was the last one in the cell. I stayed long enough that I even got the chance to get breakfast in bed; more yummy orange juice served with a hardy bologna sandwich. Yay.
Eventually they put me back in the holding cell and I was introduced to a whole new team of officers. As I sat in the cell, I heard an officer talking to the boys that were apart of my group. The officer was super pumped about our bridge experience & asked the boys how it was. The officer said that he couldn’t even believe that we had to stay over night, if it was him, he would’ve just wrote us a ticket & sent us home.
Finally 10 a.m. rolled around & I was able to step into the warm, radiant sun. I know I was only locked up for the night but believe me, one night is more than enough. Unfortunately none of us knew anyone in the area so we called an Uber to come & scoop us up. Following our release we had a lot of pieces to pick up. We had to get the car in San Pedro, get our stuff in Torrance, & head back to LA as fast as possible. Unfortunately, law enforcement makes everything difficult so our tasks weren’t achieved in the most timely manner.
When they went back to San Pedro to pick up the get away car, they were all able to see the bridge in broad daylight. Everyone was in shock, no one could believe that they had accomplished that bridge the night before. Everyone was a little bummed because we didn’t get the chance to get the pictures that we had wanted. Then our hopes were turned around when one of the guys had discovered that he successfully captured a picture of the adventure.
This situation put me in a very weird place. I don’t believe that what happened was wrong. It was art for art’s sake. We just wanted to take some pictures. We’re not terrorist. We’re not taggers. We’re not a suicide cult. At best — we’re artists. At worst — we’re idiot internet kids.
I understand that this was a lesson but it was also an experience. I’m not saying that I’ve always wanted to go to jail but I don’t necessarily know if I’m mad that it happened. What I do know, is that I’ve seen sights you’ll never see. I have answers from firsthand experiences that you’ll never know. At best — it was wrong place, wrong time. At worst — it was a bad decision.
Personally, I just think it makes me well-traveled.