The other night I attended a party where I didn’t know very many people. I’m not good at mingling. The idea of wandering around a room, never able to truly settle into one conversation, makes me crazy. I’m not sure how to engage in a real discussion when everyone is there and then off again, to say hi to so-and-so, get another glass of wine, grab some kind of puffed pastry.
So I become an investigative reporter. I ask hundreds of questions until people are sick of me and desperate to move on. It’s the only way I know how to get through.
One of my grueling interviews involved a series of questioning about what it is like to have a child attend college. My ‘interviewee’ was worried about his son running off to do something incredibly stupid and I asked if that was because he, himself, had done stupid things in college. He hadn’t. But he wished he did.
I thought back to my own days at Cornell, ‘on the hill’, as they say. Thought back to a few of the stupid things I did in a state of wild abandon. I swam in a lake during a severe thunderstorm. (And it was no accident, I intentionally went out during a thunderstorm to swim and later discovered that a woman drowned in that very lake the same day.) I walked down a crumbling path into a 200 ft gorge at midnight to swim under the haze of alcohol, barely 100 pounds and having had far too many drinks to do something so dangerous.
But when I think of those times, I do not fear what could have happened to me, though I realize both experiences could have had a tragic end.
I only fear what would have happened to me had I not done them.
Because I knew once what it felt like to swim between the rush of a waterfall and the rain pelting down, not knowing or caring which washed over my shoulders and soaked my hair. To descend into a gorge and jump, fully clothed, from slippery rocks into water, under moon and endless sky, and not know its bottom. Not know its end.