Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Feeling Gravity

Sitting in Frick Park on this large rock reminds me of a camping trip my family took when I was a child. Jakes Rocks is part of Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. From what I remember, it was basically a hiking trail, along which you could find enormous rocks that the park advised against climbing. Of course, my family climbed them anyway. Especially my brothers. They would scale the rocks without fear, jump from boulder to boulder, squeeze themselves into awkward crevices.

To this day my youngest brothers (23 year-old twins) are tall and thin, able to climb trees and jump so high they seem to pause mid-air for a moment, as they defy gravity. Just this past weekend we played frisbee in my parent's back yard. My brother Matt would float when I tossed the disc to him, leaping high and floating in the air, mimicking the frisbee. He and his twin have our father's lanky build. I remember the first time I felt the weight of my female body. When I was young, I was built like a boy and my limbs seemed weightless, hollow and I could float when I ran. The summer I turned 12 years old, I started puberty, grew curves and I was much taller than my brothers. My thighs no longer floated through the air as I raced them to the end of my back yard. My center was heavier, my core. I felt my own gravitational pull. Something shifted inside me as my body weighted itself to earth, less mobile, heavier.

That really changed my relationship with the outdoors. It changed gradually over time. I have not been able to connect to my body's strength as an adult. I get very winded climbing the 30 steps to my apartment. I also have much more anxiety. Fear of heights, fear of falling. Fear of death in general. Fear of drowning. Fear of physical pain. Perhaps if I had learned to use my adult body in a different way, I would not have lost my connection with the outdoors. With that wildness of childhood when I could float from rock to rock.
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