We will fall in love several times throughout the course of our lives. Often, it happens when we least expect it. Perhaps you’re crossing the street and you twist your ankle and she helps you to the curb. Perhaps you’re shopping in the frozen foods section for some peas to ice your mangled hand and she whispers in your ear, “I like peas too.” Perhaps you’re sitting at home on your boat watching YouTube videos, wishing things were different, wishing you had purpose, wondering if purpose is even necessary, and she strides down the dock, lost, looking for a neighbors’ boat, and you start chatting, first about the weather, then about the Mariners, then about the stock market, numbers are exchanged, tensions run high, and the rest is history.
Or perhaps if you’re like me yesterday you fall in love in an entirely different way.
You fall in love with a boulder.
Meet Water V6. She hails from near Gold Bar, Washington. She’s about 12 feet tall, with a gorgeous neck, shapely sloping hips, and beautiful, delicate feet. She’s made of granodiorite, like many of the other boulders in the area. What separates Water V6 is how un-contrived she is, how unassuming. You come across her and think, Hot damn, that’s a beautiful line. I’d like to get on that line. I’d like to caress those slopers. I’d like to see if my fingers fit in that seam. I’d like to see if I can get up that thing.
And so you inspect closer. You run your hands along her beautiful lines. You contemplate where you’d put your feet at the sit start, what the first move might be. Do you go up with your left hand or your right hand? And then where do you put your feet? Do you match? How do you get to that sloper? What’s the best place to grip it? How’s the lip? Can you lunge for it or should you try to do it really controlled?
And then you remember it’s V6 and the hardest thing you’ve climbed outside is V4. How can this be V6? you think. How can something this beautiful, this inviting, be so outside my wheelhouse? Is it outside my wheelhouse? Because I look at it and think, I could do this. I could climb this boulder. I could climb this bloc. Or I could at least do some of the moves.
It’s hard to walk away from her, but finally you do. There are other boulders to look at: Midnight Lichen V4 (if you can just do the first move!), Stinking Slopers V5, Metroid Primer V6, The Samurai, whatever its V-grade is. As you walk away from Water, the new love of your life, you glance over your shoulder to see if she’s still there. She is. She looks demure, pouty even. She looks sad you’re leaving. You’re sad you’re leaving, too, of course. You’re already making plans to come back. You’re thinking what you’ll ever say to her parents if you ever meet them.
You’re getting ahead of yourself.
You walk off and look at a bunch of different boulders. You crimp the starting holds of BMOC V2 and talk with your friend about how it’s a short but actually quite fun problem. You trek further up the hill and look at more blocs before making your way back to the dirt road, where you slowly descend, the setting sun off to your right, the crunch of the gravel under your feet.
And all the while you’re thinking, When will I see her again? When will I see Water?
You breathe in sharply to stifle a sob.