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Taking dad’s advice ... a bit too late

July 10, 2011
Chelsey Roath , The Mining Journal

This summer I have found myself committed to a long- distance relationship.

We met through mutual friends at the beginning of May and instantly hit it off. Together we share a lot of the same interests, we make each other laugh, we can trust each other, etc. For the most part, Kyle and I have a picture- perfect relationship. Except for the fact that he lives six hours away.

Kyle was born and raised in Saginaw. During the summer he stays there with his parents and in the fall attends Central Michigan University.

So there's a good five and half to six hour drive between us. It was just by chance that I happened to meet him on the weekend he came up to visit the U.P.

Some of you may be thinking, "Five and a half hours, I've known couples who've had it worse." Which I don't doubt. But for two college kids on tight budgets, the distance seems tragic. Gas isn't cheap and neither is repairing a broken car.

On top of those concerns, there's something else. I'm embarrassed to admit I was dreadfully afraid of crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

Opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957, the mighty Mackinac Bridge is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world ... and my No. 1 fear.

When I was in high school I think I crossed in once - maybe twice - while riding down with the cheerleading team. Both times, I was lucky enough to sleep right through the ordeal.

When I started dating Kyle, I knew that a bridge crossing -by myself, in my little blue Saturn - was bound to happen. It was inevitable.

For the first three weekends of our relationship I was able to convince him to come up and see me.

But by the fourth weekend, it was time for me to suck it up and conquer my fears.

The three-hour drive from Marquette to St. Ignance was nerve racking. I kept playing mind games with myself, thinking about all the horrible things that could go wrong on the bridge.

"I'll get stuck on those grate things. I'll drive too slow and hold up traffic. I'll drive too fast and fly off the edge," I said to myself. I know, you don't have to tell me how ridiculous those fears sound. I was being dramatic. There is no other way to put it.

When I got to the bridge, I paid my $3.50 toll, gripped the wheel, and tried to stay focused. The crossing to the Lower Peninsula was the longest five minutes of my life. I'm pretty sure I was sweating bullets then entire time.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how much I loved crossing the bridge or argue that there was really no reason for me to be scared. I've gone to visit Kyle two more times since that first trip and I've been nervous every time.

But I didn't let fear stand in my way. That's important.

Not every fear you conquer will lead to some magnificent reward. It's not what is on the other side; it's the journey that takes you there - that's what makes you stronger.

Editor's note: Chelsey Roath is a student at Northern Michigan University. Her biweekly column on college life in Marquette runs on Sundays. Her email is



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