Do Not Bend - Suspend
When I told anyone about my intention to do a suspension, the first response was always "Why?" It's a difficult question to answer. I couldn't say what it is I wanted as I hoped to go in without any real expectations. Any explanation I gave sounded trite. But ever since reading Fakir Musafar's suspension articles for BME, I knew that it was something I had to try. One day.
Lately, the time began to feel right. I felt prepared as a person and willing to accept the outcome, whatever it might be. I sent out feelers, just dipping my toes. Some things were discussed, but I wasn't totally comfortable with the circumstances. I hoped for the best possible environment. So I waited. Then one day I checked the BME Events page and found out about NorCal SusCon. I wasn't sure about a SusCon initially, but as time went on it appealed to me more and more. It would be a suspension-specific event with people there for that one purpose. Some of North America's foremost suspension practitioners would be there handling everything. And I wouldn't be the only first-timer. So I made my decision, paid the deposit, asked for the weekend off work, and began my preparations. To make what will already be a long story somewhat shorter, I arrive at Pierce Ink on Saturday, January 20th unsure of what was to come. I walk into the lobby, probably looking a bit bewildered. "SusCon?" asks the girl behind the counter. I nod and she points to a pair of swinging doors. I go through the doors and immediately notice that there are a lot of people. I hadn't anticipated this. Not being an exhibitionist (in fact, being the direct opposite), I'm a bit unnerved. I'm not entirely certain that I want this event to be watched by many people. But it's a SusCon. What was I expecting? I sign some forms and get my ID copied, initialing away my image. I get a red stamp on my hand that reads "Do Not Bend," marking me as one of the suspendees. I take comfort in the fact that, whatever the weekend may hold, I will not be bent at any point. I briefly glance over to see another girl getting set up. Having never seen a live suspension performed and not really wanting to have my experience affected by witnessing someone else's, I look around the room instead. And then I notice the white board: practitioners and their duties written on one side, suspendees and their positions on the other. And I notice I'm at the top of the list. It's gotta happen some time, but I didn't know it would be so soon. I trot off to the bathroom and get back moments before my name is called out. Erik Dakota asks me if I'm ready. I determine I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I take off my sweater and they mark me up. The other girl gets off the ground and the crowd applauds. The SusCon is under way. I lie down on the table and Erik asks if I want the hooks thrown one at a time or two at a time (I'm doing a four-point suicide). I opt for two. Best get this part over with. He asks if I have a preferred piercing method. I don't, so they (I was a wee bit overwhelmed and don't remember who my second piercer was - sorry!) go with "deep breath in and pierce on exhale." I focus on breathing and they get set up. The tips of the needles rest on my back before they're pushed through, scratching my skin. Deep breath in - exhale - "and pierce." It is intense. I'm used to short bursts as the needle goes through. But these needles have more to go through. It's the normal piercing pain, but extended - doubled or tripled. The hooks follow through and there's sweet relief. They ask how I'm doing, and I just nod. Time for the second set. I tense up more, knowing what to expect. But, knowing what to expect, it doesn't seem as bad. I lie on the table a little longer, gathering myself. I feel ready, so I stand up and roll my shoulders, sensing the hooks and hoping to get my body to accept them. The other girl comes down and it's my turn to get tied to the rig. "First time?" Erik asks. I nod. "It isn't going to be what you expect, so don't expect anything." I walk to the rig tunnel-visioned. I only notice whoever's in front of me. And now it's Emrys (iam: Tyler Durden). He's telling me what it will be like. There will be pain, but I will get over it. I'll feel heavy afterwards. I should just enjoy it. He describes the different ways of getting in the air, and I ask to be walked up. So much is happening so fast. (iam:) Evan comes up next and says he'll be walking me up. I'm fastened to the rig, so I lean back, putting as much weight on the hooks as I'm comfortable with, just to get a sense of the feeling I'll soon be swallowed by. Evan asks if I'm ready. I close my eyes, bringing to mind some words of encouragement that I'd been given. Deep breath. Open eyes. Okay. "Okay." He takes my hands and we start walking. One step forward, one step back. The rope tautens. One forward, one back, taut. My heels get higher off of the ground, but my toes clutch the floor. I let the pain in, accept it. "Okay." And I'm in the air. Evan keeps my hands in his, gently pushing me back and pulling me forward. I may be off the ground, but he's still there, and our hands keep that link unbroken. The pain subsides, but I can't let go. I want to retain that connection.
"Okay." I am released, free. It's just me now. I'm aware that (iam:) Jason is holding my rigging, that Evan is an arm's length away, that a roomful of people are watching me. I'm aware of this like I'm aware that I'm breathing air in, taking the oxygen, and breathing out carbon dioxide. Bodily, I have a context. I fill a point in space. But that context is irrelevant at the moment. It isn't an out-of-body feeling rather than a sensation of being a passenger within my own body instead of being the driving force behind it.
I swing my legs like a child in a swing. Back and forth. The world comes back. People are back in focus. A Perfect Circle's "Magdalena" plays in the background. People take pictures, but I don't mind. I'm enjoying these moments, aware that they are fleeting. I gesture for my camera and take some pictures of my feet, some video of them swinging beneath me. I turn it on myself and take some self-portraits. Looking back on them now, I see that look of pure contentment on my face. I stop swinging my legs, close my eyes, and lie (er...hang) still, just swaying under the momentum I've built. And this is the best feeling yet, the one I'll keep coming back to. I wriggle my fingers in case anyone who might be watching is worried. It's not quite floating as I can still feel gravity pulling me downwards. But it's damn close. I open my eyes and see Evan in front of me. Judging by the songs that have played, I guess that I've been up about ten minutes. But I think of the people behind me on the list and figure I've accomplished whatever it is I wanted to do. "Okay" "Down?" I nod. I'm lowered gently. Toes, then heels. My full weight back on my feet, I feel what a burden carrying the human body around really is. They remove me from the rig and hand me over to (iam:) Joy Rumore. She lies me down on the table. The second rig's going by now and I watch (iam:) Whitespace as he experiences his own suicide. A few years ago, I was in the hospital waiting for X-Rays to be taken. Doped up on morphine, disconnected and fascinated, I watched a trickle of blood snail down my arm. That feeling returns now. A few tears trickle from my eyes, leaving a wet spot on the blue examining table paper. Joy grabs (iam:) Lili and they massage my back, commenting on the lack of air bubbles. I'm a bit disappointed, as I'd been looking forward to a visit from Sirs Snap, Crackle and Pop. They bandage me up and Joy describes how I'll feel now that it's over. Ups and downs, yes, but also irritability, especially if people ask me to describe my experience. I hadn't heard that before, but she's absolutely right. Whenever I'm asked, I get a bit annoyed. As if it can be summarily described, put down in words that another person could relate to. I try here, but I still don't do it justice. I get off the table and join the spectators. On one hand, I was glad to go without seeing what could happen before. But everyone seems to be doing better than I did. They're more adventurous, stay up longer. Initially I'm upset at myself for not taking full advantage of my opportunity. But now I wouldn't change a thing. It happened and was perfect in its happening. I could not have asked for more. I feel emotionally connected to everyone who goes up that day. Most of us are first-timers. The nerves, the pain, the relief that washes over when the pain is accepted. Each one tears me up, lifts me emotionally, spiritually. If you're reading this and don't think suspension is for you, I recommend that you at least watch one being performed in person. It is a journey unto itself. Beyond that, there isn't much to say. Rather, there isn't much to say that I feel is within my power to express. This is absolutely one of the best things I've done and I want to thank BME, the iam community, the folks at Pierce Ink, (iam:) Allen Falkner, the practitioners, the spectators, and everyone who made this possible for me.
submitted by: LotN
on: 22 Feb. 2007