I went rock climbing at VCU last night. I had been rock climbing before, there was the tower at the after graduation at the end of high school, the tower they had at college, and of course the seven foot tall rock wall at the local elementary school (the biggest challenge was crawling over the top and climbing back down...it stumped Elaina at least). So I felt like I had a good grasp on it. Let me tell you something about rock climbing - it hurts! You get going and you're like, "This is kind of fun, look at me fighting gravity!" And then your leg starts to uncontrollably shake, and your hands ache, your arms are screaming at you because you weigh to much for them to be pulling you up (you find out later that you should push with your legs). If that weren't bad enough, the first one I did had a...well I guess it was a cliff or ridge, so now your hands ache, your legs are shaking, your arms are screaming and you're trying to tick gravity off. You are not supposed to be able to crawl up from under a ridge, no, your arms won't let you, your legs suddenly develop paralysis and then, you look down.
Okay, who are we kidding, I am talking in "you"s but really, it's me...I looked down. I have sensed for many, many years now that I may be afraid of heights - the adrenaline rush I get from looking out of a four story window, or when I lean to far on a railing have kind of been the clues (Long gone are the college days when I would wrap my legs around the outside banister of the apartment complex and lean back without holding on with my hands or climbing up on the roof of the three story apartment building). Last night as I looked down at the guy who was my life line I realized that the paralysis in my legs may have come from a debilitating fear, not because they knew better, knew that I wasn't some spider-woman who could climb unnaturally up walls. I resisted the urge to scream, "bring me down!" over and over again and instead I just held on tighter to the wall. I kept wondering how in the world people do this is nature, without the safety of the height limit, the rope, the floor made of recycled tires. I didn't make it to the top that first time. I came down and rested for a bit.
Then I tried the easy wall...yeah, apparently no one thought I should try the easy wall in the first place. So I got hooked back up and made my way to the top. Having just learned to push off with my legs, rather than use my sorry excuse for arm muscles to pull me up. Still, even though it was the easy wall I found myself at points frightened to move, afraid my fingers would slip and I would fall, what can I say, I'm not an adrenaline junkie, falling was not on my list of fun things to do for the evening. I made it to the top, and feeling fulfilled I was going to call it quits for the day. But a different employee asked if I wanted to climb, I said 'no' so he said, 'well, I'll just be sitting here with nothing to do if you change your mind.' Clever trick climbing boy. So I roped up to go up the same one I went up the first time. I am happy to report that I made it further this time, but I still stopped at the dumb ridge, maybe one day I'll be able to make it all the way to the top. Yeah, that's right, I intend to go back and try again.
I think my favorite was how nice all the employees were. I was thinking about that on the drive home, and am still thinking about it. Is it because they have one of the coolest jobs ever? And how do you top this job? These people can't be destined for desk jobs. Did they receive special training in how to be the nicest people in the world? I mean - I honestly felt like I was friends with all of them by the time we left. I'm not one of those people who makes attachments that easily but they were sending off some serious friendship vibes. My life was in their hands, they cheered me on, explained things in a way that didn't make me feel like they thought I was stupid.
Anyway, I'm excited to go back next week.