Streaking and Other Forms of Freedom

Last Saturday night, at approximately 9:28 p.m., my best friend and I ran down a dark path completely naked. This was not my first experience streaking, but it was hers, and it was glorious.

Ten minutes earlier, we sat in her car in a parking lot contemplating what the night might present. We had already devoured sushi and coconut ice cream, so we were energized and prepared for adventure. The rain pelted her sunroof and she considered opening it to see what would happen, but ultimately valued the function of her possessions over the unknown of the experiment.

“You know, I’ve never just laid in the street in the rain before,” she said. “Like that’s something I’ve never experienced.”

“Let’s do it,” I replied, then added, “Naked.” We laughed, but then the conversation continued. Eventually, we agreed that streaking was an excellent idea, so we drove to an unlit bike path with racing hearts.

After several minutes of coaxing and pep talks, we were off and running. We danced and hollered and revelled in our freedom before ducking back into the car fully clothed and giggling. Three minutes later, a group of people strolled by completely unaware of the scene they had narrowly missed and our adrenaline escalated once again.

The rest of the night naturally progressed into a Beyonce dance party and I fell asleep feeling more exhilarated and free than I had in weeks.

The whole concept of personal freedom has occupied a significant portion of my brain space lately. Between school, running and relationships, I often feel that my ability to exist in my preferred free state is virtually impossible. In typical stubborn fashion, I struggle to accept anything less than that and blame the world for my lack of internal content. Obviously, it is completely my own fault, but I live for moments and stories, and the best of these occur when I am entirely uninhibited by societal expectations.

I tell myself that amid midterms and responsibilities I simply cannot reach adequate freedom and must wait until summer to capture these moments. I have become obsessed with songs that confirm this. Songs like Free by Rudimental and Cactus Tree by Joni Mitchell that figuratively stab me in the heart. I firmly believe in this lack of freedom most of the time. Except when I prove myself wrong, like Saturday night. Because in that moment, I thought of nothing but the steady rain and the glowing moon enveloping me in the infinite night.

In all honesty, I will never be as free as I want. The only way to achieve this would be to follow in Chris McCandless’s footsteps and abandon everything. But I cannot do that, or at least not right now. I value the people in my life too much. I enjoy too many benefits from my academic and athletic time commitments. And I am too happy in the situation that is presently my life.

So for right now, I will accept the freedom that I find in my life’s snapshots for everything it entails. I will frolic naked in the rain; I will spontaneously pierce my ear; I will dance unrestricted at concerts; and I will savor every one of these moments with all of my senses. Because when I can be that free, I want to remember every detail.

Free Moon

One month into my freshman year of Catholic high school, I stood eating goldfish in a crowded hallway with my newest friends. We were amid a ten-minute break and the conversation had begun to run thin; each orange cracker placed in my mouth allowed me a few more seconds of socially acceptable silence. Though I knew one friend from middle school, the rest were entirely from that month and we had not yet bridged the defining stage of friendship: inside jokes.

After several long minutes of bearably awkward freshman conversation, one particularly enthusiastic friend whipped out her phone to capture my goldfish-eating moment and simultaneously asked for my number. Midway through typing my name, she paused and slowly raised her head to look at me. Noting her wild gaze, I immediately ceased movement and, with a lone goldfish hovering in my hand, awaited her next move.

“Monica,” she said. “Moooonica. MOON-ica. What if someone asked you to prom and said, ‘I’ll jump over the MOON for you?!’” We locked eyes in silence for several seconds until she abruptly deleted what she had typed and replaced it with what would forever become my nickname in that emerging friend group.

Since that fateful day, no one has asked me to a dance saying they would jump over the moon for me, and most people do not even call me Moon, but the name still feels essential to my friendships and, in small part, my identity. Plus I think the real moon is pretty freaking rad and the mere concept of space and the universe spirals me into an existential tizzy every time it comes up. Fundamentally, I feel connected enough to that gray sphere to make it 50% of this blog’s title.

The other 50% comes from the entire purpose for this blog. Since starting college I have felt freer to choose my own adventure than when I first read Goosebumps books as a child. Now I can write my own chapters and go back to the start when I need and even keep moving forward when the first adventure should end. My capacity for curiosity and exploration is endless, my quest for meaning and purpose is uninhibited and my desire for universal justice is unchanging.

This blog is essentially my attempt to release my thoughts to the world and create something meaningful.

This may emerge through opinions or stories or pictures but it will always reflect my fundamental belief in equality and it will always parallel my struggle to make sense of the world. I cannot predict how this story will end, but the adventure begins now.