Dispatch 021

Fiction: Love is a runout 5.13

Goddam. The way he moves. A dusting of chalk landed on my eyelashes as he danced up the limestone. The way his hand fit perfectly on every hold. It was the same way his hand fit perfectly on every inch of my body. As if it was made to be there. 

I told myself I wouldn't fall in love with a climber. They're nomadic and selfish and overly-independent - just like me. I told myself I wouldn't let anyone fall in love with me either. That way no one was let down. No one could get hurt if I just controlled myself and stayed away. But it's kind of hard when he looks at me that way, like he'd rather hold me than ever see the sun rise again. 

So we spent countless wonderful days together, climbing as much as possible, reading with our headlamps, falling asleep in tangles of arms. I'm totally there, with him, in those moments. But he always leaves or I always leave. We have dreams of adventure. He goes to South Africa to climb. I drive my car across the country. He bikes around Canada. I hike the Pacific Crest Trail. We spend the inbetweens together. Years go by and we are always intermittent. But, damnit, every time I see him, I know there's no other human being I would keep coming back for. So this is the love I've chosen.

Every time we leave is another crux pitch, a harder crux pitch. We don't fight outloud, but both of us know the other wants to be followed. Why won't you just come with me, on my journey? We are selfish. But, shit, when we reach the top of that climb together, we have that light that you see in the stars when you are a child. 

When does something become so hard that you choose to quit? When I'm on a hard climb and I've been pushing for 45 minutes and my fingers no longer move the way my brain tells them, that's not when I quit. It's only when I am no longer advancing my climbing by staying on the rock that I finally yell "lower" to my tired belayer below. So I will only give up on this love when it's no longer moving me forward, when the crux becomes unbearable and pointless. Love is a runout 5.13, but I’m not getting off this climb.