Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2020 @ 9:22 am
We travel to the climbing bluffs, driving up over the damp mountain pass into the dry interior and its sage-covered hills.
In the parking lot, we organize gear beside the van. I like this, I like all of this. Living together out of a van, walking side-by-side across the landscape
I lead a climb up an intimidating wall. The climb is thin, and my fingers cling to small crimps that fail to extend to my first knuckle. The wall is near a hiking trail, and people stop to watch my journey up the rock face.
After two hikers pass, Russell calls up, “Those guys just commented on how well you are climbing.”
I enter the crux. I am high above my last bolt. My muscles are beginning to shake, and I begin to make small noises of panic.
“You’ve got this,” he calls up. “Don’t stop. Trust yourself.”
I see what looks like a good hold above me. I take a risk. I make a small but controlled movement towards the hold and move my arm around in a graceful arc, hoping to god that the hold is what I’m expecting.
My fingers touch the hold. I can work with it. Two moves later, and I’m at the next bolt.
In that moment, a large butterfly circles my head and lands on my pink helmet. Its wings flex back and forth. A slight breeze, warm and dry against my face. My breath coming hard and fast.
I take in the moment. Look out across at the sparkling lake, the hills a patchwork of orderly vineyards. Clouds puffed in the blue sky. An amorous cricket chirps from a crack in the rock beside me.
The butterfly lifts off from my helmet and is carried away in the wind.
I continue up the wall, successfully completing one of the most challenging leads I’ve ever attempted.
A few days later. He is putting on his shoes. I stand in my living room, not wanting him to leave but knowing that it’s a healthy decision.
“Thanks for coming over for dinner,” I tell him.
“Thank you for being my girlfriend. You’re the best. You’re the best girlfriend I’ve ever had. By a million miles.”
My insides blossom and heat gathers around my heart. No anxiety. All calm.
And that is the feeling of one of my needs being met.