“Contained” – the word glows with the brief flash from a battery-powered light, sprayed over the doorway of a windowless room. The light fades out again and we are back in the pure darkness of the bunker. The walls are concrete and cold steel pipes run out of the ground and into the ceiling. There is more graffiti but, without the dull light, I can’t make out anything else. We continue through the rooms of the bunker. There are several of them, covered with pipes but nothing else. We find our way out the same way we came in: down a long corridor with a steep set of stairs leading up to the street. Tall trees that are growing out of the cracks in the cement surround the bunker, how many years has it been abandoned?
Walking cautiously through the dark night, we follow the road to another forged path. As the path turns, we find ourselves at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco far in the distance. We head west as the path wraps around the cliffs, the black bay far below, until we reach a steel door sealed with a heavy linked chain. A member of our troop discovers a weak link and breaks the chain to let us in. Through the door is a tunnel and as we venture on, we can barely stand up straight. The end of the long silent tunnel opens up onto the ocean. Now, the raging sound of waves crashing is all around us. The stars are our only source of light besides the matchstick, directly above our heads. There is a small, steel bridge connecting the point where the matchstick stands to where we are, on the cliffs at the edge of the headlands. As I cross the bridge, I turn for one last look behind us; all I can see are the cliffs radiating the shadows of the bridge structure every time the intense light of the matchstick flashes on.
We’ve reached the lighthouse.
Once at the building, I climb the stairs that lead to that intense flashing light. I push my way past the ‘do not cross’ tape into the dome that houses the flickering light. Only the repetitive sound of a prolonged buzz and a stark click resonate through me, the crashing waves that were so loud down below are now silent from inside this glass enclosure. Buzzzzz and click as the bulb flashes on and off. The glass encircling the light is round and riveted, its defined design emits the bright light out in beams across the dark sea and night sky. The light is long and deep, shooting through the still night. It is expansive, immense, bold. It is anything but contained.