Free Falling

I’m sitting here on the sofa with the dogs snoring around me. It’s Friday night, the 4th of July. I have two books on the armrest: ビデオカメラでいこう by one of my fieldwork collaborators and heroes, and Ranciēre’s “The Emancipated Spectator”. I was reading and making homemade tomato sauce. Mostly, I was trying to ignore the ache that rose in my chest as soon as my housemate said he was going out.

But I’ve made progress.
I could have gone out tonight too, and I didn’t. I listened to the voice of my soul, which said that I am exhausted from almost nonstop manic socializing. I have been deliberately keeping myself from being still. It all catches up to me when I do.
But here I sit, deliberately courting it. What’s in there? I am asking? No really, let me see it…

I’ve been ignoring my inner voice for so long, because the emotional pain was too intense.
I was driving on Allen Parkway the other day as the sun was setting. This was before I got my car stereo replaced, and I was tired of trying to tune my iPhone through the radio adapter. I turned my own music library off, and turned on the actual radio- just in time to hear Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” start up.

That’s a song I’m sure many of us know almost by heart. It reminds me of warm days on the way to summer camp, listening to the radio in the camp van. I repeatedly got in trouble in that van for being too wild, for riling the younger kids up. When I eventually applied to be a counselor, the van driver made a point of saying that I was unsuitable. I wasn’t detached enough from the kids.

But I digress.

I started to sing along. “And I’m free. Free fallllllllin.”
I sing the chorus a couple of times at the absolute top of my lungs, so loudly that it occurs to me the drivers nearby might be able to hear. But I keep singing. And as the chorus starts again I, who am not prone to such things, find my eyes filling with spontaneous tears. I cry and sing at the top of my lungs.

I am sitting in Austin’s Graffiti Park on a perfect night, swinging my blue-tights clad legs over the ledge of a broken building. To my right is the kind of boy I only fantasized was real. A recent Philosophy Ph.D grad. He gets all of my theoretical references, but we both descend into juvenile humor just as often. We talk easily. I want to kiss him, but he’s moving to DC for a postdoc, and he doesn’t want to get involved with anyone now. He has a sly, cocky smile and unruly blonde hair. I love how his whole face lights up when he laughs.

Suddenly, sitting so close to the edge gives me a panic attack. I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid. I am afraid that every time I meet a boy like him, he’ll be moving to DC, and I won’t be.

When I text him later that I’d wanted to kiss him, he tells me he wanted to kiss me too.


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