This evening was the first night I've climbed in about 3 months. I managed to make it up 6 routes before my hand gave out. Not bad for someone who's been fighting tendinitis since July, but not quite where I was this past summer and fall. Of course, it's only been a couple of hours; the real test will be tomorrow morning. It'll be interesting to see just how stiff my hand is after its first workout in so long.

My technique is completely shot at this point. So much of the experience is building up muscle memory, making moves second nature. But like every other skill, without use, you get rusty. You may never forget how to ride a bicycle, but if you stay off of one long enough, the first few rides back are a bit wobbly. Everything felt backward tonight, like I had two left feet and my hands were crossed the whole time. Still, I managed.

There's something about climbing: the sense of accomplishment when you reach the top of the wall or when you complete a route that's ranked higher than any you've done before. It's a sport where progress is easy to measure and the credit is all yours. I'm still very much an amateur, but I totally understand why people who climb tend to do so for 30 years: there's always room for growth, always a new skill to work on, always a higher peak to reach.

There's also a great sense of camaraderie among people at a climbing gym. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed, and everyone pauses to watch a really good climber work out a new problem. Climbers remind me of surfers in that way. Each is out to have his best run, but all appreciate the beauty of a great climb.

And then, of course, there is the simplicity of the whole experience. It's just you hanging on to the wall. Sometimes, I even forget all about the rope and my partner at the other end of it. He is just a safety net, one that I have every intention of not needing. (Fitting since my partner is the ExBF with whom I am earnestly trying to be friends. lol.)

Up on the wall, there's not room in your mind to think about work, or money, or relationships, or the lack thereof because the dumbass you are interested in is dating someone else for reasons you will never fully understand, especially since he continues to wax endlessly about how wonderful you are and how you make him a better person, and he spends hours emailing back and forth with you about inside jokes, philosophy, and imaginary vacations together while his "girlfriend" is who knows where. On the wall, you don't have to be angry with yourself for letting someone use you like that, for letting yourself sit and hope and wait for someone who can't see what is right in front of his face. Up there you don't have to feel like an idiot for expecting more than he is apparently willing or capable of giving, for settling when you know that you deserve a hell of a lot more than what you are getting, for being afraid to walk away.

Up on the wall, there's no room to think about those kinds of things.

But eventually you have to come down from the wall, and there they are waiting for you, all of the thoughts you were trying to get away from. And compared to the wall, these obstacles seem nothing less than insurmountable.

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