How do I suspend this limb? What does the movement look like, or not? Is this position sustainable? How long will it take to come down – or can I wiggle a bit? My fingers struggle to pull apart knots tightened by my own body weight, made competently enough that they don’t collapse easily. Two skills fighting each other, growing at similar rates.

Natural rope is not strong enough to suspend an entire body, so it needs to be doubled or tripled as it loops around limbs and torso. A single pillar of rope spreads out to find cuffs on safe parts of the body. Legs are sturdy, and hips and shoulders. There are areas in our arms where nerves are close to the surface of the skin and they should be avoided. Much of learning rope bondage is learning caution. When self tying, the lessons in avoiding pain are quick, but what about less immediate effects? Do I mind if that leg falls asleep? Can I lose mobility in my wrist for a few days or weeks? Injury is eventually unavoidable, they say during safety lectures. Keep scissors nearby, check in often. Know yourself.

Familiarity with my body is helpful. Only use the muscles needed, don’t point that toe. Breathe. Stretch before and after, drink enough water. Finding limits in strength and flexibility that change daily (and are affected by how many of my own self-care rules I choose to follow each time). Each session is a conversation and there will never be a point that the time I spend with my bondage rope is mundane.

During extended explorations, I focus heavily on my body. A fetish performance can beĀ  energetic and dancerly, but I feel more meditative, like a marathon runner or a house painter. The goal is to find the physical limit in this space now. Each time is different, hopefully a learning experience. I have permission to undo and redo, to stop and adjust. Time is sometimes gone and sometimes so slow and heavy. And so, each suspension is memorable not in the marks left behind, but it the choices I make to answer questions or push in new directions. As I gain confidence with rope bondage, I hope to use the answers to gain specificity towards new inquiries.