You’ve come a long way sista!

Last night I was driving home from the Seattle Bouldering Project, talking through a few of the routes with my best friend who is finally back in town and staying with me until he finds his own place again.  He started to laugh, and when I asked he said I was just thinking about when you started. How shaky you were, how frustrating it was. Just step up! Just do it!Now you know why it was frustrating. He’s right. I was awful. Everyone who starts is awful, because you have to start somewhere. Out of everyone that I climb with, B knows better than anyone how far I’ve come.  I remember sitting in his room, saying, I think I’d like to learn to climb. He responded with something along the lines with, are you sure? Don’t just do this because you feel you have some family story to follow—it’s expensive and an investment. He took me out on my first climb with another friend and they put up something I was never going to be able to finish. I think it was Human Foot, out at Exit 32.  This summer I stood at the base of Human Foot, belaying one of my bad ass climbing ladies as she led her first 5.8 outside.  I’d just led my first 5.10 outside, a route a few to the left of Human Foot, and I did it clean.

Are you sure you want to learn? I wasn’t sure, at the time. I was mildly afraid of heights, I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into, and climbing was more a theory and a story than anything else. I understand his hesitancy, but I will always love him for taking me on that first climb, and for continuing to take me out. The past two nights we’ve climbed in the gym together—first at Stone Gardens, then at the Bouldering Project.  I like to think he was surprised as I moved up routes he’d been working on.  He’s out of climbing shape but will regain it back quickly—I’ve been in the gym and outside a lot.  He’s probably still a stronger climber than me, and will be able to send things I can’t touch as soon as he has his endurance and finger strength back.  Still—for the first time I’m able to work through a sequence and offer suggestions.  He asked, for the first time, How did you start that? and I ran through the moves easily for him.

On Sunday night, when we were talking about plans for the week, I said I’m climbing Monday and Tuesday.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to come along—Monday was a settle and plan for the week evening while he lived in Hawaii.  It’s that for me too, though not with any household chores.  My Monday night climbing crew helps keep me more centered than anyone I know.  They are my best friends and the people who watch me fail and succeed and we share so many stories and so much laughter. I need Mondays with my friends to set up for my week, and I was glad he decided to come along instead of tending to laundry and grocery shopping.  There have been bumps, bruises, scabs and tears—but I can’t wait to get outside with him again and get some more battle scars. 



There’s self-perception and reality. I assume, pretty much always, that no one remembers who I am. I don’t know why this is, but I just figure I don’t stick out in a crowd.  I know this probably isn’t true (and definitely wasn’t true when my hair was every shade imaginable) but still, I just operate under the assumption that no one remembers me or knows who I am. I think it’s a little bit like seeing someone in a mirror—if the angle is such that YOU can see HIM than the angle is such that HE can see YOU. This is just science.

I go to Stone Gardens almost every Monday. Lately I’ve been going Wednesdays as well, possibly another day over the weekend. I see the same people there, every Monday. I don’t know any of their names, but I know them. The taller guy with a lot of tattoos and small black gauges in his ears that almost always climbs alone. The guy with dark hair and a near scowl and his much smaller female climbing partner who are usually wrapping up right as I get there.  Then of course, there’s the Stone Gardens staff. Some I actually hang out with outside of climbing, but the others I just know from being there. Keith, who sets the routes that KILL me and is usually sitting behind the counter when I get there. Kyle, who I met out at Exit 38 this summer and throws his shirt down off of routes same as I do (and did some bad ass routes last night). Rick, who at this point I actually climb with sometimes and teaches the youth climbing classes on Monday nights. Some of their names I learned from overhearing, some I learned from introductions, some I picked up from volunteering at the climbing competition at Seattle Bouldering Competition. I still assume they don’t remember me.

Yesterday I found out—they know me! They know my name! Objectively—duh. I come in at least once a week, I swipe in and my name shows up on the screen. Not to mention, I have a few visible tattoos which always help with remembering someone (at least for me) and I’m good friends with some of the folks that work at Stone Gardens. Emotionally—I suddenly felt like a Cool Kid.  It’s a funny feeling—to realize that you aren’t as invisible as you think.

It’s getting cold in Seattle—the mountains are already snowcapped. So, in honor, a piece I wrote about skiing without any skiing in it.  This was written out of stories from a friend I love, dearly, who will be returning home soon.

Night Skiing

One moment, the ocean is its ordinary self. Breaking in sets of three, deep grey and predictable.  The next, it pauses, folds a right angle and rushes the cove. Later, the pier is drowned and mermaids learn how to breathe again.  She didn’t say “perhaps” she said “paper” and if you watched her hands, you would have seen each sharp crease before the warmth of the candle carried the moon to its place.

Borrow a cup of sugar and the sky unscrolls.

A color called iceskate, romance with a blade. Morning stacks room on top of room, illumination switches up. Stretches to a combination of take-out and coffee cups, lunch eaten at a desk.

No one ever says “the best time for photographs is the brightest point of the day.”  It’s always the witching hour, the breaking. Light that is just before it gets difficult to read.

You are squinting your eyes at the page. You’ve missed the window.

Later, when you look back, it will be impossible to differentiate day from night.  Except for the color of a shirt, the way one person is looking over her shoulder and another has his hand raised in a wave.  Hello or goodbye—another thing difficult to discern but for memory. Snow throwing light everywhere like it costs nothing at all.