When is the last time you had a well earned bruise? As a child I was constantly scraping my knee, getting grass stains on my clothes, and otherwise completely ignoring my own mortality. There seems this cultural belief that teenagers feel immortal. I’d disagree. Children feel immortal. They give everything one hundred percent. Crying, laughing, running, jumping, there’s no holding back.
The first time I remember losing my ability to commit to an action without fear ended with the gritty taste of sand in my mouth. Most of the memory is hazy like it was a dream and I’ve already been awake for too long afterwards. I do know it was a red swing held up with actual chains because the problem started when the twisting chains pinched my finger. I was gripping the chains in preparation to jump and immediately froze when it pinched me.
If I was alone I would’ve stopped the swing by dragging my heels in the sand. Since I had an audience, I still needed to jump. Instead of jumping with the momentum of the swing, I thought too much. I pictured the pain of landing too hard. Stubborn as I am, I decided to leap anyways. Thoughts move quickly but so do swings and my decision to jump wasn’t at the opportune moment in the eyes of physics. I struck the ground first with my knees, then my forearm, and finally my face. The annoyance of the discovering little bits of sand in my mouth for hours afterwards was more troubling than the pain of the fall. But it was a long time before I jumped off a swing again.
Maybe teenagers have a tendency for rash action. I’m not denying that’s true of my teenage years. I just don’t think it was fueled by a feeling of immortality. It was founded on a need for control. As a teenager you are constantly being told to prepare for adulthood while simultaneously being repeatedly reminded no one mistook you for an adult. Needing passes to walk in the halls or use the restroom sound familiar to anyone?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thoroughly enjoying being 21. It’s magical. I certainly don’t miss the feeling of being a teenager. I do miss feeling like a child. Now and then though I get echoes of that childlike feeling. I do my verbs 100%. This may results in a few bruises but it’s worth it.
I managed to accumulate three bruises over the last six days and it’s been quite the week. The first was a hickey so I’m not going to tell that story with even the small level of detail that my swinging story received because it’s my story and you have to get your own hickey.
The second was a mystery bruise. I went out to the bars in my college town for the first time. The next morning I discovered a tiny bruise on my hip. Nothing extreme or girls gone wild style happened. I probably bumped into a table. I just enjoy that I was having too much fun to notice.
The third bruise was acquired rock climbing. There’s often this point when rock climbing where I scan up and down for holds, evaluate the length of my limbs, and just sit there for a second before recognizing I’m going to have to jump. This isn’t a glamour leap over a cliff or anything, but there’s a moment where my feet don’t support me and in that moment it’s me against gravity. (Don’t worry too much, there’s also a harness on my side but I tend to forget.) I sort of jumped at the rock wall and hugged it with my knees. The sides of them are now tinged a lovely purple. I think tomorrow I’ll wear a skirt and show it off.
I want to be clear. I’m not saying go out and hurt yourself. Just go out and live. You’ll probably end up with bruises either way, but the brave ones are a lot more fun.
I’m going to go jump off some swings now.