Let’s Do This

This past Tuesday was the Send and Social at the Bouldering Project.  This basically means that the gym is a little more crowded than usual and there’s free beer up on the balcony. I went with a handful of friends and we both sent and socialized, as expected.  At one point we were sitting down in the far corner of the gym watching people work on two problems, a V4 and a V5, I think.  (They were red and blue—the Bouldering Project is switching off of labels and into a color banded system.)  I was feeling sort of tired and just watched for a while before trying the red one.  While I sat there a girl kept trying the same problem and she and kept getting farther and farther along but couldn’t finish it.  Still, you could tell that she was happy and each move higher was the best she’d ever climbed.  I overheard her talking with her boyfriend about it—and watched her watching other people climb it, puzzling out how to finish the final few moves.  I jumped on for my try—it’s a fun corner route, and up my alley as far as a climb that plays to my strengths.  I slipped at one point but caught myself and finished the route cleanly, but stayed in the corner to see if the girl was going to try again.  She was next up and as I watched I started to cheer her on a little—come on, you got it. Go for it. Nice. Come on.  I didn’t know her name, but it was fun watching her get past where she’d fallen before, and then hit the next move.  She finished the route and you could just see how excited she was—she hung for a second off the top of the wall and looked around, probably trying to find her boyfriend.  He hadn’t been watching—or at least, she didn’t seem to find him.  She came down and walked over to me.  Was that you cheering me on? She gave me a big hug, we chatted for a little bit and then she ran off to find her boyfriend.

I’m competitive to a fault. I go for something that’s supposed to be an easy jog around the lake and end up sprinting in to make sure Random Guy doesn’t pass me at the end.  I want to be better, faster, stronger.  This has spilled into climbing a little bit, but in general, I climb with people who are much stronger than me.  It’s also a little difficult to “compete” in something that’s so individual.  That said, cheering the random girl made me think about one of my favorite races in college where competing switched over into teamwork.  I am always the girl cheering my own team on while I run, but in this particular race I was running along the final 800 meters without any teammates in sight.  There was a girl near me that I kept trading places with and eventually we found ourselves running shoulder to shoulder as the finish-line came in sight.  There was a stretch along a fence line before the course took a left turn into the final stretch and I don’t remember if she started it or I did, but we began talking to each other. Come on. Let’s go. Let’s finish this.  We were stride for stride, and we hit that moment you can find where you are working alone, together. Come on. I felt her fall back and I remember turning my head, come on. Get up here. Let’s do this. She said, go, you have this, and I took off.  I tried to find her afterwards to thank her, but I just knew she was a girl, in a uniform, with darkish hair in braids— not a very unique description at a cross country meet.

I don’t think I would have finished that race as well as I did without the random girl I ran beside.  I don’t know that the girl I cheered on Tuesday would have sent the problem if she hadn’t heard my support.  I know just thinking someone is watching and supporting me gets me to try that move I’m scared I won’t make, to risk just a hair more, to pick up my feet a little higher and power in to the finish. I love this—we are better together. I don’t think it’s about proving anything, necessarily.  I know very well that it doesn’t matter to anyone else what I am capable of.  But, thank you for watching. Let’s do this, whatever it is. We are stronger when we are side by side.

some of my cross country ladies

some of my cross country ladies


Petroglyphs and Faith

Petroglyph and Steggie in Maui

I’ve recently started to gravitate towards dinosaur humor.  I’m not entirely sure why—I was never that into dinosaurs as a child, any more than any kid is. Lately though I find them endlessly amusing. The blog T-Rex Trying makes my day, and we routinely make dinosaur jokes while climbing. I think it might have started a few years ago while watching endless episodes of Battlestar Galactica with my roommate.  Between episodes he would charge across my bed making noises like a baby brontosaurus to get to his ice cream/beer/whatever was on my desk.  I bought him a dinosaur planter, as one does, and then this past spring found a toy dinosaur on the beach while visiting him in Hawaii.   The toy dinosaur, of course, led to me finding petroglyphs in the guidebook and demanding a detour from surfing to stroll past some history.

Lately I’ve just embraced my love of dinosaurs—why not? So as I paged through my guidebook for El Potrero Chico one of the rest-day suggestions caught my eye: petroglyphs outside Mina!  H. hadn’t heard about them, despite living in the area for several months.  I’m not entirely sure if he’s humoring me or actually excited, but it’s now officially in our plan—climb some bad ass multi-pitches and then PETROGLYPHS! Sure, a hot spring too, and I’m sure it will be lovely and relaxing, but, did I mention petroglyphs?

There’s something about seeing tactile proof of people on rocks that blows my mind.  Talk about legacy—the person who made this was not so different from me, but so different.  It gives me a sense of vertigo and crashes timelines down into each other. I tried to explain the way I feel about timelines to H the other night, and I think I did a dismal job.  I blame wine and whiskey, but really—I think it’s just difficult to explain the overlapping sense I sometimes have.  A little bit inspired by string-theory, a little bit Buddhist, a little bit faith… I’m not sure where to source all of it.  I’ve lately met a lot of Christians-turned-Agnostic and talked with them about the transition away from a firm belief in God.  In a way I’m envious that they had that kind of faith at one point—perhaps that’s why I’m thinking about faith and what I actually feel and believe.  I think it’s impossible for me to describe without gesticulation—words fail.  And then you stand in front of something like an etching in rock that is potentially from 7600 BP, and there has to be something right? Or not. I don’t know.  What I do know— I’m excited to be here, in this time, with the people I know and adventure on the horizon. I’m excited that I have friends who send me pictures of dinosaurs and friends who say hell yes, let’s go see some cliff drawings in the desert.

Also– to update an earlier post: I hit one of my goals on Monday– I suppose my friends were right when they said I should pick something a little further out of my reach.  I really did think that climbing an 11+ clean was going to be a while coming, not a few sessions after setting the goal.  So, new goals are in play, because I didn’t give myself the time I wanted. Lead 10+. Climb 12-. Let’s see how long those take.