Taking Flight

In the past week I’ve successfully been suspended twice. By “successful” I mean I went up and I came down and there were no injuries. I lasted somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds up each time.

Have I suddenly learned to love suspension?

Naaaah. I wouldn’t say I love it. I still prefer being down on the ground, for the most part. Though I do love me a partial…

But I trust the two people who I’m allowing to practice their suspension skills on me, because they’ve invested a considerable amount of time learning from reputable and respected rope teachers in our community. And when I mean a considerable amount of time, I don’t mean a half-day class and some at-home practice.

I mean hours spent in monthly supervised instruction followed by practice followed by supervised approval that they’d picked up the appropriate skills and technique before moving forward.

I’ll say this: sitting through the class where they learned safety and technique for their first suspension (a side suspension) helped me a lot as one of the people putting my body on the line for this endeavor. I was able to understand with more clarity why certain things are positioned in certain ways or in certain places in order to maximize safety (and comfort…which is minimally maximized in a suspension to begin with) of the bottom.

I’ve sat through one-off rope instruction as a bottom before. They teach how to tie the knot, which I don’t pick up very easily. I’ve tried to follow the steps but I lose them as soon as it’s over. So, generally, when I’ve been the bottom in a class before this, I’ve not taken away much from it other than the wonderful sensation of being tied.

But, in these classes, I am learning too – especially from the instructor who teaches from the bottom position – on which ways to position my leg, for example, for the best results in a well-tensioned thigh cuff. I also was able to better understand what areas I should feel the pressure in, and whether or not there’s a need to panic if my fingers go tingly.

Little by little, I’m becoming more able to articulate what I think would work best for my body and my endurance level. I want the hip harness on first, for example, to limit the amount of time my body is in a stress position once the chest harness goes on. Or which leg goes up because one is stronger and more able to withstand carrying the weight of my body for the five or so minutes that the rest of the uplines are being secured.

It makes me feel like a true partner with the person I’m tying with. This isn’t only about them and their goals. It’s about our goals together.

The more I’m able to understand how to help my partners customize these ties to my body, the more comfortable I feel with the thought of taking flight. One-size-fits-all rope has never quite suited me.

Which brought me to this conversation the other night with my partner as we came home from our first successful suspension together.

“Maybe by my 40th birthday, I can be a piñata!”

I can see it now. By next July, I should totally be able to withstand spending …what, like a whole minute? Maybe two in suspension? Then he can beat me with, with something fun…like a hollow plastic bat. Big noise, but little pain. And I can hold handfuls of candy and fling them about the room!

It’s a fun thought. Who knows if it’s something that could happen or not? I don’t even know what’s happening tomorrow, much next be in a position to plan for next summer.

But, I like that I’m learning something and I like that I’m pushing myself a little out of my comfort zone with the help of two people that I trust will think no less of me if I feel like it’s too much and have to stop.

That trust alone is 60% of what gets me off the ground. The rest is just rope.

The Play Partner Manifesto

When I started thinking about writing this post, I had strong feelings that I would not mind connecting with another person as a regular (non-sexual) rope-specific play partner.

And now, I finally have a few moments to write it and….

The notion doesn’t seem so shiny.

It’s an inconclusive state – do I want this, or don’t I?

And I think that the answer is that on some level, I do – but what’s lacking is the sense that the type of person I’d want to do that with is someone already known to me. So, without having someone in mind specifically, it’s hard to really imagine how it would work.

Type of person – that’s not exactly right. The person doesn’t meet a type – it’s the supposed connection we’d have that is a type.

But, allow me for a moment to process a couple finer points on this desire. Words like “benefit” and “exploration” and “free time” come up. Like, “I believe I could benefit from the exploration of a connection with another rope top during my free time on weekends.”

There are things about that statement that bother me.

I don’t want to use a person as a distraction. To connect with someone on the level that I like to connect in rope, they have to be more to me than “something to do on Saturday night.” This type of connection I’m envisioning would be one of friendship, trust, and mutual enjoyment that goes beyond “I don’t have anything better to do tonight, wanna tie??” The idea that this relationship would “benefit” me feels selfish. A vibrator benefits me because it gives me orgasms when my partner is unable to give them to me. I do not want the “vibrator” equivalence of a person to just give me what I want when my partner isn’t around. I don’t like the idea of treating people like tools.

And yet –

I wouldn’t (probably) mind more rope in my life, but I come back to that question of connection.

After I fell in love, my connection with the other people who used to tie me on occasion changed. I became strikingly aware of the difference between the connection with someone who actively wanted to tie me – who would reach out days or even a week in advance to ask if I’d be interested in a rope date; and the connection with those who would show up at the same party I happened to be attending and think “Hey, I’ve got a spare hour. You’ll do.”

That’s not really what I think they were thinking, but …that’s how it felt.

So I shifted a little – to avoid feeling that. I set a “new rule” that I would avoid last minute/pickup play scenes. That if someone wanted to tie me, they’d ask in advance.

And …well, those proposals were few and far between. Until they were so rare and sometimes felt like “Yeah, couldn’t find anybody else. Is your body available?”

It still felt like it lacked connection.

This is no judgement on anybody I’ve played with past or present, or those who do pickup play or have asked me recently if I could bottom for them. In fact, both people who have asked me recently – I’d have said yes if I legitimately didn’t have other things going on those evenings.

Bottoming for demo or practice isn’t the same as a play partner.

A play partner (to me) is something more. It’s a friendship that exists outside the confines of rope. It means meals together or movies and laughter and conversation that has nothing to do with rope . It’s connectivity on multiple levels. There’s a level of care, consideration, and enjoyment of time spent together.

There’s a tenderness to it. There has to be, because I like mean rope – so there has to be tenderness on the other side of that.

It’s a relationship.

Minus the sex.

You know, like marriage.

See, the right type of person – the right type of connection – would have laughed at that joke.

Anyway, this isn’t a statement of intention to go out in search of this connection. This is a public declaration of my motives for considering it. Much like my state of being prior to meeting the man I now love – I am in a good place in my life where not much is needed.

But if someone who happens to connect well with me were to come into my life and have an interest in pursuing this….I’d probably, carefully and slowly, give it a chance.


Rope and Photo by @mister_bacon_, my first ropey play partner. 🙂