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A Day to Define Myself

These always start off the same way. I sit at my laptop and try to compose in coherent thoughts all the strange physical sensations, emotions, and mental images swirling in my head. However, as I sit here tonight about 350 miles away from one of the most pivotal points in my life, I cannot help but think this is different.

I should explain. This past weekend was the 6th annual BME So Cal BBQ event. For reference, I live smack dab in Arizona. Close by, sure, but not enough so I would really have considered going. I love meeting new friends on the iam community, but meeting up with those who I don't know? That wasn't really me. It is however very descriptive of one of my closest friends, Plaid [iam:Plaid]. He called me one day and said very openly, how would you like to go to the California bme bbq? Well, after a bit of deciding, I thought, "What the hell?" and agreed. Skip forward a few weeks of planning and a fairly long car drive and we were in sunny and very breezy San Diego. I was on vacation, and quite excited.

I was also going to put hooks in my back and pull. Now, this decision came about with a bit more thought. The body modification "scene" has always been normal to me, due to my brother having stretched lobes and various non traditional piercings since 1994. He even talked to me at one point in time about suspensions and I thought that was a line that I would never cross. It was people just hanging themselves, and at my start of high school it just was not me. Once again, I'll fast forward and sometime in the past few years I've grown in so many ways- the main being that I'm much more open with my body now and what I like to do with it. I have many piercings, a tattoo, and have played with temporary piercings for special occasions. Suspensions still scare me to be honest, but I'm more willing to eventually try it. Pulling was something that I was more knowledgeable about. Having seen them done quite a few times by Phoenix's own local suspension group I knew how they were done and that it was almost an in between to suspensions. So, when the list went up for who wanted to do a pull at the bbq, I figured there would be no better time. After all if I chickened out there wouldn't be people who I would have to see on a daily basis teasing me [like anyone from iam ever would!] and someone else would be able to take my place. I did know going in that I wanted to pull against some object though and not another person to begin with- I wanted my first experience to be me concentrating on just what I was going through. As Dave [iam:Midian2000] told me, there would also be a group pull I join at a later time.

Saturday could not come soon enough, and is often what happens when you want to get somewhere fast, a problem comes along. Ours came in the form of a car exploding on the only road into the park which made us a good hour and a half late. We did manage to arrive in one piece ourselves and soon we were there in a quiet little green hilly area of Persidio Park. I grabbed my toys and my didgeridoo and went to meet the hosts. I found a spot on the grass and just took in the scene for a minute. There were a few more people who I met, but my mind was really on the pulls.

At long last, the guys from Enigma Pro Piercing came and set up, and the 14 of us doing pulls gathered round. I was quite nervous at that point, and felt more and more like I was going to throw up. My mind kept telling my body that I had been pierced at 8g before, and had been pierced in my back as well, but my stomach refused to agree. Deciding I had to go sooner rather than later, I asked if anyone would mind me going next, perhaps the 4th to be "hooked". No one did, so I stepped up and met Didier [iam: DidierS]. He was very professional and talked to me while my back was massaged to loosen the skin from muscle and then marked. He tested a couple places and when I felt ready, I laid down on the table. My heart was beating so fast I worried again about passing out, but slowly began to breathe and tried to just clear my head. I thought about all the major things that had happened to me up to that point in the year, the good and the bad, and relaxed a but . The piercings were done in tandem, a 10g needle followed by a 8g hook, one on each side. After a practice breath, it was time. I felt a sharp pain in my back for a split second, then a harder feeling of pressure, more on my left side than right, and then nothing. It was done.

The first part was at least. I took a few more breaths and slowly sat up on the table. For a few seconds I almost doubted my ability to move but I could. I stretched very gently and was just vaguely aware of a tingling sensation near my shoulders. I did a quick run to the bathroom and loosened up my shoulders more on the walk back to the main area. I stopped at the food table for some water and a bit of sugar to get my glucose back to normal and wound up talking to a couple people from my town for a few minutes. I was aware that I did have hooks in my back, but it wasn't distracting from what I was doing. I went to talk to some more people as the rest of the group was hooked and after what seemed like ages [but was perhaps an hour] we were all ready to attach to each other. I found my tree and was tethered to it very gently.

"Walk slowly forwards until you have enough tension on the ropes to feel some pressure," were the sage words I was left with and slowly I did. I must have been making some odd faces for sure as inside my head I was going back from "Oh my god this is so cool" to "This is completely crazy, what the hell are you doing?". Finally my brain quieted down enough so I could concentrate on the physical feelings; I knew my back was feeling tighter, my muscles were tensing in my back and legs and the biggest thing was that I felt two cold spots near my shoulders. I could feel the metal of the hooks in my back. I would lean forward a little bit at a time just to the point where I felt like I might tip over and then slowly take a tiny step back to release the pressure. After about a half hour I was in a good enough place to go even farther and was stretching very nicely when my friend Ashley came over. We talked for a bit and she wandered off.

It was about that time my legs began to ache a bit and my head started to pound. I felt a bit faint and dizzy, so I slowly stepped backwards until I had enough slack to sit down on the ground. I rested for a minute, drank some Gatorade, and then slowly started to pull again, this time from a seated position. That felt much better to me and I could even pull harder since I wasn't tensing my body for fear of falling. I pulled for another hour or so, watching everyone else down the hill from me and just enjoying the feeling of the hooks in my skin, the nice weather and really not thinking at all. It was like my brain just stopped working and all those thousands of little thoughts that normally go through my head just went "poof". It was quite a relaxing feeling.

The whole time I was doing this, I was also increasing pressure on my hooks and just as I was in a nice zone I heard a loud metallic snap and felt the pressure on my left side disappear. I called someone over, fearing I had torn out a hook. However, I had just bent the hook enough so the ring that held the rope tethers fell out. I decided this was a sign that my time with the tree was done, so I grabbed my "leash" and walked back over to the piercing area. My ring was put back and I joined the two guys still doing a pull.

I was attached to a metal hub that held the two of them and walked up a small hill. It was much harder to pull, because I was on an incline and had a 20lb weight on the end of my rope. I was no longer in a meditative state, I was right there in the moment. My back felt like it was being pulled down and I had to fight to not tip over. It was far more physically difficult than a tree for sure, but there were more people around so I was able to talk and make jokes during it. After perhaps 15 minutes Didier [the piercer] needed to head back to his shop so we were told to stop the pull.

We all took slow steps back until the metal hub was on the ground, then we were untied from it. The release of pressure was very strong and my back was still tense for a while afterwards, as if there was still something pulling on it when nothing was there. I walked back up to get my hooks taken out. Didier slid them out so fast I felt nothing at all. I was then told to lean back against his hands which held gauze to stop any blood from the wounds. I didn't bleed much at all, and was not even sore from the hooks. I was very surprised.

It's been a couple days now, and my mind is still trying to deal with what I went through. From a physical point, I pushed myself harder than I've done before and I feel almost empowered by it. I have done something I never really thought I would and more so, I went above what I expected to do. Emotionally I feel still slightly euphoric from the whole thing, but sad as well that it's over. I know that piercings and rituals can be addicting, and in this case it is most true. I can't wait to do another pull even if it feels nothing like my first. I won't ever feel the same way as I did for that Saturday, but I think that makes the whole experience so much more special to me. It will always be a favourite memory and something completely unique to who I am.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 Aug. 2006
in Ritual

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Artist: Didier
Studio: +
Location: Persidio+Park%2C+San+Diego%2C+CA

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