I'm here with Jonathan, who has already chalked up 5300 points on a 5.12a. No pun intended. And if you're asking, "What pun?" I know you've never been to a climbing gym in your life, and so I'll explain.
Everywhere I look, the air is filled with floating chalk particles, the remnants of dusty-handed ascents up the forty-foot concrete walls. Each wall covered with oddly-shaped, chunky holds. Each route is named and marked with bright tape flags.
Jonathan is out there somewhere in a sea of athletic, lanky bodies, spandex and rubber-toed flexible climbing shoes. I own a pair, and a few minutes ago I even had them on. Squeezing into the shoes is no easy task; I feel a bit like one of Cinderella's step-sisters... though the slipper is not glass, smells like sweat and ultimately fits me like a glove. For the foot. Anyway...
I can see him, sporting a green shirt and the black harness I gave him for Christmas years ago. This hobby began for him in early 2003. We had just begun dating. A friend at work offered to take Jon to a gym and teach him the basics. For while, almost a year, I accompanied him. I wasn't bad. But quite quickly it was evident that climbing was Jon's niche. His height, long, slender physique and strength-to-weight ratio gave him an advantage on most routes.
Sometimes I think God built him for exactly this intent.
I have been disloyal to Summer. If this were the Catholic version of Confession, I'd be leaning my head against the screen in the darkened box, ashamed. And, when prompted by the Priest of Seasons, I would sigh and begin like this:
Forgive me, Friend, for I have sinned against Summer.
It has been a year since my last confession.
Twice I have complained about the heat.
Once I have shopped for long-sleeved shirts.
And I have wished for the exit of Summer and the quick onset of Autumn too many times to count.
Thankfully, this imaginary Priest of Seasons and I have a long history. My penance for the whining and weaseling my way out of wearing shorts is usually simple and not terribly painful. Besides, I recently acknowledged the goodness of these bright, searing final summer days by getting a new haircut. And I wore shorts and skirts all weekend long! (My white legs were happy to be out in the air.) So, I'm paid in full.
And ready to be blessed by the coming of Autumn.
She'll be here any minute now. I could smell her today, a sweet, freshness hitching a ride on the summer breeze. Not at all stagnant or sweaty. Autumn, a closeted harlot, comes to woo me each year with that scent. Her maneuvers are subtle, but then she catches me with my eyes closed and grabs my hand. Suddenly my mind is playing hooky. We're swinging in trees and picking contraband apples and husking ears of corn for supper. Our jeans and tshirts are hanging unabashed on the barbed wire fence near the swimming hole.