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Video by Anthony Brownrigg

[The Following is an excerpt from Emerick’s personal experience of her first suspension] Photos by Will Coe

…Take a deep breath, now let it out. The first hook went in with ease but almost scared me. I don’t know what I expected but my body jumped. The second, third, and then the fourth, were of course painful but nothing beyond my ability to handle them. My back now felt tight, odd, for lack of a better word. It was hard to move and stand back up and I felt a bit silly but moved slowly back outside.

The rig now daunting before me. Moments more passed. People talked around me and the crew prepared. I’m sure I talked as well and even made a few jokes, I think, but there was nothing that could take my mind off the task hanging before me. Allen slowly attached me to the rig, talking through it, explaining more steps. The pain now was close to overwhelming. I felt my skin go hot and my breath quicken. I couldn’t believe the intensity but more of how my body was handling it. The slow tug as the rig was being secured. The shift of my skin, the small amount of blood sliding down my back. It was almost a sensory overload. With each new step I shook more, but mostly out of fear. The pain was there but I hadn’t accepted it yet. I knew I had to but my brain battled itself. I could hear the voices question what I was doing and others saying I was ready.

Allen now standing before me, had me place my hands in his.  It was hot and I was sweating, I couldn’t tell if the liquid on my back was sweat or blood but it didn’t matter now.  It was time to face my fear and accept the pain.  To stop fighting and let go…

…Allen started to rock me back and forth, the pain increased with every pull of the rope. I was on my tip toes now, part of me straining to stay on the ground. But the stronger side won out. I pushed down on Allen’s hands, making the cement below get further away. I was now on my own in the air. My back strained against the metal. I could feel myself bleed. My mind pushing hard against the pain. However I forgot to watch my breathing. Time didn’t exist to me. The pain now pushing back. My hands growing numb and tingling. I couldn’t swing and my brain needed a break. I grew light headed and nauseous. I needed down…

[She came down, collected herself, drank some water and decided to go back up]

….The rocking back and forth was shorter this time. My body wanted back up. My head was ready and the pain in my back sang for me. I was up. Now floating. The pain washed over me like water and put out the fear. My mind grew quiet. Silent, peaceful. People, and music faded and I was alone with the world around me. I wanted to swing, to feel the movement of the air against every pore. My skin grew colder, far more comfortable and I could feel the wind in my hair and breathed slowly. Only words existed now. No thoughts, no pain, no negativity, no hate, no anger, and no fear. The world shifted around me. Things were vibrant, the cicadas loud, the whispers of the air almost deafening. I would swing one way and could experience the coming sunset. The pinks, oranges, and blues, broken only slightly by the white wisp of clouds that dotted the sky. Then the other way, my personal pendulum bringing the night, the moon alone in it’s brightness, ready to put the day to rest and light the world with it’s cool blue. Over and over the sky moved around me. My body relaxing to the motion, I could hear the tree above me, see the leaves surround me and I became something of peace. Something that had been given the gift of flight. I was quiet in my place…

[Retrospect]

…I’m proud of myself. The quiet now comes and goes but the feeling is still there. I will never forget swinging, floating and entering a world where only quiet and peace existed through pain.