Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Letter To My Rock Climbing Shoes

"Life is an adventure, dare it."   -- Mother Teresa
My climbing shoes are hung up, but only for this photo opp. :)

Dear Climbing Shoes,

I apologize.  I know you are disappointed that you didn’t see more action at the City of Rocks this past weekend.  I know you’d been planning for months on me lacing you up to see Rachel lead climb in a ball gown.  The reality is that although you were raring to go, I was in no shape to push my limits. 

I laid awake and cried Sunday night when I got home.  I wish I wasn’t so emotional, and I’m really happy for Rachel, but it would’ve been great if you and I would’ve been celebrating at the top with her. 
It’s really not cool to make excuses, but my messed up knee, heel, and shoulder have collectively made our times together less frequent lately.  And I wish it wasn’t so, but I’m way weaker than I was a couple months ago.  I’m still in physical therapy, for Pete’s sake.

Please know that when we’re not together I miss you terribly.  I miss pulling you out of my gym bag, having you fit my foot like a glove, and lacing your sea foam green laces.  I miss the way my feet feel when I wear you, kinda like I’m a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz.  And oh how I miss the sculpted way my arms and legs feel on the day after you and I spend time together.

When I climbed on Saturday, I realized how much I’ve longed to feel your grippy black soles.  I did the City, not in the glorious fashion I’d hoped, but I was determined that you were going to rock at least one or two routes. And you did! You held me tight and we got me to the top.  Twice.  Nothing to write home about, but tough darts.  If I've learned anything, it's that not all climbing days are created equal.

I was lucky to have great friends Steve and Heather standing at the base.  They have seen me at my best, climbing 5.10 routes.  They knew you and I still had it going on.  They shouted to me from the base to persist.  “You can do this, Susi,” Steve said at least 100 times.  Steve is one of the classiest men I know.  He and Heather gave me some great hints as you and I sauntered gingerly up the mountain together in the blazing afternoon sun.  And Heather, who looks like a ballerina on rock when she climbs, kept saying how happy she was for me after I rappelled back to earth.

Remember the morning, some months ago at the climbing gym, when I compared muscles with my friend Amy and vowed I was going to climb til I became a very old woman?  That’s still what I want.  No, I won’t be wearing you in the Olympics.  And I don’t see El Capitan in our future.  You have to realize, my beloved shoes, that I started climbing at an age when my grandma spent her days baking sugar cookies and riding a three-wheeled yellow bicycle through her desert retirement community.  I'd lost my edge before I ever started.  But rest assured, I still treasure our times together, racing to the climbing gym or trail head after work and pulling you out of my bag for another run up a mountain.

Like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs.  I remember how much I hated you when that kind gentleman at REI first introduced us.  You made my feet hurt like hell.  Pretty sad that you’d hurt me so bad at the beginning of our relationship!  But since then, we have bonded in a way that’s just perfect.  We haven’t spent much time together lately, and we both know "things" have suffered as a result.  You know the reasons … including the ones I’ve uttered only in hushed tones.  But I didn’t leave you, nor will I. If I go, you’re going with me.  I’m taking you to NYC (yes, I’m a bit of a sugar mama, but indulge me, will you?) and we can climb in Manhattan.  How many of your friends can say that??? And when we come back, we’re going to spend even more time together.  We’re in this for the long haul, you and I.  I promise.

Love, Susi

(Photos courtesy of Heather Watson Bridge and friends)

City of Rocks, Idaho
At the base of the route
A slow but secure start at the base.

Climbing photography is all about the arse shots. Ugh.
Ahhhh the top.
Heather, an amazing climber, a talented photographer, and a great friend.
Steve rappels down after nailing his climb.
Rachel, lead climbing City of Rocks in a ball gown.

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