Top Out

Top Out

I’ve been in LA for almost eight years and I’m still technically an assistant.

I can hear my Depression Era grandma rolling her eyes and telling me to be thankful to have a job – and come to think of it, electricity – and anyway I should just come home and marry a farmer.

In honor of her, I will say that I’m not being entirely fair. I’ve shifted to writing and had to start near the bottom again but that doesn’t ease the anxiety and frustration that’s started to plague me on a daily basis.

Will I move up? When will I move up? Am I too old to move up? Will this outfit help me move up?

(That last one is a hint into what I’m like getting ready in the morning.)

So, like any good Los Angeles citizen I’ve decided to take my problems to the gym.

The climbing gym.

My first boyfriend was a climber and just like his tattoos and his double pierced right nipple, it had always impressed me.

When I started searching for an outlet for my anxiety I couldn’t get the thought of climbing out of my head. So I found a gym and drove over to check it out.

 The moment I walked in I knew I’d found what I needed.

Now, I’ve become a little obsessed. I say things like, “I found a great foot hold” and “I’m really solving the problem of the climb” and Jason listens patiently and then goes back to reading his paper.

My hands are ripped and full of blisters, my fingers are tired and swollen, but my anxiety is slowly going away.

Climbing is giving me exactly what I want from my career: A slow, steady rise.

I come away from the gym feeling like I’ve solved something. Like I’ve moved up in a tangible way.  Sure there are set backs but I’m making progress.

Last week, I was stuck halfway up the wall, my legs starting to shake and my fingers slipping. I braved a glance back down at my friend.

“Now what?”

He smiled.

 “You can do this. Just make a jump for the next hold.”

I look above me. The hold seems miles away.

“What if I fall?” I shout down.

“Then you fall.”

I bend my knee and slowly reach my hand up, getting ready. Finally, I take a breath and lunge for the top. I feel my fingers close around the hold. And then –

I slip.

My body hits the wall and I fall.

I lie there on the mat for a second, catching my breath.

Eventually, I get up, brush myself off and call it a day.

I went to bed that night feeling a little defeated and a lot sore but the next morning I woke up thinking one thing.

I can’t wait to go try it again.


This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum.  You can find them (and me) here.



Carving Out Space

Carving Out Space