Always One Foot on the Ground || Road to Recovery

I have a secret. I’m not sure I should tell you because I’m afraid you’ll go and tell my physical therapist and the next time I’m there for a normally glorious session of massaging and warming up and doing lateral walks I’ll instead just get chewed out. Obviously I’m going to tell you, but I need to work up the nerve, first. Because it’s a bit embarrassing. I mean, it’s amazing, but it’s also a bit embarrassing.

OK I’ll just tell you: I sent a red today.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Mark, you damn fool, now you’ve ruined everything. Your physical therapist told you not to climb. Now you’ve opened pandora’s box and you’re going to be at Seattle Bouldering Project every day, you’re going to be showering there, you’re going to be up in the rafters, looking down at everyone, writing down beta. You’re going to hang out by the campus boards and grunt at people. You’re going to spot people who don’t want to be spotted.

Etc, etc.

But friends, I was desperate. So give me a break.

Here was the situation: I was in North Gate, which is not a great place to be. Dark night of the soul type shit. I got a FocusAid from Whole Foods on Roosevelt and next think I knew I had my phone open to the SBP website and I was making a reservation for not but a half hour in the future. Then, in a dreamy daze, I found myself guiding my Subaru towards Stone Way, towards the gym. I found myself putting my mask on. I found myself stooping down to get my temperature taken by the little temperature taking machine. I found myself in the changing room, humming the song “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor to myself.

I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sound.

Next thing I know I’m exploring the space a bit, nodding to people like I know what I’m doing there. I find myself drifting towards the hangboards like a boat who’s lost its anchor, getting closer and closer, and then touching the wood of the Beastmaker, and then hanging, and then doing leg lifts, warming up on the bike, and then — AND THEN — and this is where things get blurrly, this is where I started to black out a little, or at least brown out, AND THEN, I find myself in front of the climbing wall, sitting down on a bench, PUTTING MY CLIMBING SHOES ON, my beautiful Miura’s, thinking, Jesus fuck these things are tight, I’m going to lose a nail, and then I find myself touching a handhold, a yellow handhold.

And then I find my body rising.

And my spirit rising too.

Upward and upward it went.

Until I touched the top hold with two hands, and started floating back toward the ground, like the seed of a field maple, back and forth, back and forth, until I touched the pad.

And that was that. First climb in over two months.

And then came the feelings of regret, of shame. Should I have done that? Did I just put myself in grave danger?

And then I climbed a red.

Let me just say the following: SBP Fremont is fucking awesome. SBP in general is fucking awesome. They have their shit dialed. God, what beuatiful routes they set. I love the circuits, I love the space, I love the vibe. Though what I took from today’s session was that there are a lot of good boulderers nowadays, and I felt kind of humbled, check that, intimidated, check that, depressed, by how good everyone was. “Oh my god, I wanna like, climb V8 this summer outdoors.” “Bro, first of all that’s never gonna happen. Second of all you MIGHT climb V4 again but will probably actually just be injured the whole summer, and third of all the only one sending V8 outdoors is me. Slash V10.”

Although really, do the gym rats ever climb outside?????? That dude you see wrecking the moon board, does he climb outside? No. Probably not.

And it breaks my hea- hea- hea- hea- hea- hea- hea- heart.

And it breaks my heart.

K, anyway, not climbing at the gym for awhile. At LEAST two weeks, or when my physical therapist gives me the green light. Or the yellow light. Or when I accidentally go to Northgate again and find myself desperate. Because I think most people find themselves desperate when they go to Northgate. Or is it just me?