Tuesday, April 21, 2009

where I was before climbing

This is mostly in response to Sara's blog but it's definitely a recent theme in my life. Go visit her blog first so my references make more sense. :)

Let's see...where do I start?

Growing up I was a veritable nonathlete, though happily so. I played little league when I was seven (only girl on the team...missing my two front teeth in the team photo...). I went out for track when I was in seventh grade mostly because I knew my lack of hand-eye coordination probably wouldn't make me a good candidate for basketball or volleyball. I'll confess I tried out for cheer twice and was bummed I didn't make the team, though now I'm thankful I didn't. (ha. Sara, check out the sports similarities here...) On the track team, I chose to be a shotputter (all 4'10", 65 lbs of me) because they had to run fewer backstops and I HATED RUNNING. I still do, mostly. My lungs just don't handle it well. I quit the team after one meet for two reasons: I couldn't throw the shotput (I was PATHETIC. I could drop the darn thing.) and I got terrible shinsplints.

I did do gymnastics off and on from age seven through high school graduation. However, I was never a powerful gymnast, for reasons I found out later, which are also likely the same reasons I developed scoliosis as an adolescent. I was (and really still am) abnormally flexible. My physical therapist last year voiced suspicions that I might have joints that are just extra loose (hypermobile, Sara? it's a suspicion, though not a diagnosis in my case) and that could not only help explain my back problems but also all the joint pain I've experienced in the last ten years.

Anyways, I did a lot of choir and music-related things all through high school. I danced and was generally very academically-oriented. Again, NOT ATHLETIC. I went to college on an academic scholarship, starting as a Spanish major, then linguistics, and finally settled on speech pathology, which is what my degree is in. Through most of college, I spent time doing choir and dance performance classes and avoiding schoolwork with recreational reading. Somewhere around two years ago, a friend suggested going to the climbing gym.

So we started going to the gym. Maybe once a week, pretty regularly. I really started to like it. Then I landed funny on a bouldering pad and fractured my ankle in May of 2007. I had surgery in August of 2007, and didn't start climbing again until after January of 2008. Started back at square one.

I climbed on and off until fall of 2008, when I hiked Half Dome for the first time. On that trip, I realized that I was seeing Yosemite through completely different eyes. I wanted to be OUTSIDE. I wanted to be THAT girl. I took a rec class through my university that took me outdoor climbing for the first time last October. Hook, line, and sinker. I met people who would climb regularly, and I started climbing two or three times a week. In January 2009, I started competing locally through the CCS (I'm eligible as a grad student!) and that put me at the gym training and meeting awesome people all the time.

Also, sometime last fall I read High Infatuation, Steph Davis's awesome book. Her book fully turned on its head my perception of what it was to do what I wanted with my life (I read it in the midst of falling in love with climbing and applying for grad school and evaluating what adulthood was going to mean for me). To see that someone can do what they love and love what they do and be so gracious and open...hit me hard. So thanks, Steph!

I started to dream about climbing and exploring and I was constantly reading adventure and mountaineering literature. I went on a trip over spring break to visit a friend in Phoenix and another in Denver, and even as I'm flying over the desert, I'm seeing these mountains and I'm drawn to them in a way I can't explain.

Over the weekend, I was assigned the nickname "Granola". My mother, in all her Coldwater Creek-wearing, hair-done-every-eight-weeks-ness asked me when I was home a few weeks ago if I still shave my legs, which is her way of acknowledging that I'm kind of becoming someone she doesn't quite "get" but she's okay with it. (For the record, I do shave.) None of this is who I anticipated becoming.

So here I am now. CCS season is wrapping up. I've just come off ANOTHER weekend of climbing. I am constantly bruised and scraped and tired and HAPPY. I'm happy and fulfilled and balanced like I've never been before. I have every reason in the world to be less than balanced...I recently split with someone I've been dating more or less on-and-off since I was a freshman. I'm a first-semester grad student. I have NO IDEA what I'm supposed to do with my life after this. But life is GOOD.

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