Monday, May 27, 2013

A trip of many firsts

I am in Mammoth Lakes, CA right now, after arriving in the Bay Area and spending a couple of days in Palo Alto and Yosemite. I will take advantage of my connectivity while I can.

I had a bit of time between the end of Finals and the beginning of summer orgo, and so decided to head out to CA for a bit. I had my climbing gear, camping gear, a rental car, a return flight home and no other plans. I knew it was going to be an interesting trip, emotionally. This was going to mark my first time entering a climbing gym, touching rock outdoors, being in Yosemite since my accident. Here are passages transcribed from my journal documenting some of my thoughts/feelings.

Wed May 22, 2013
Went to Planet Granite-Sunnyvale with Blase, Serene, Wei and Sam. First time to a climbing gym since my accident and still haven't fully processed emotions. Felt good to move body like that but also felt extremely frustrating and sad because: I couldn't use my left foot holds, I struggled on climbs that wouldn't have even been warmups for me, being super-pumped from doing so many pullups and not having any hand/fore-arm/finger strength anymore.

Felt like a big, fat, lard-ass, as evidenced by the photos.

Here I am, getting worked on a 10a. I am not wearing a climbing shoe on my left foot.

Next, I gave crack-climbing a go. I was confident that if I could get solid hand-jams, I could use just one foot to move up the crack. I made it up clean, but my right ankle was super-sore from doing all the cranking.

It was weird to see the same faces at the climbing-gym 2.5 years on. I wonder if they recognized me in my post-accident body, or knew of my story.

A first step at least. I'm beginning to think it is okay for me not to be able to climb at a high-level, or even at all again; that it is okay not to have a perfectly lean, skinny machine for a body...

I want to be able to devote myself to a career and new life - am I still grasping on to the past? What can I not let go? Getting to a satisfactory climbing level will take so much physical and mental effort - shouldn't I devote those resources to becoming a doctor?

Had dinner at Google with Eu-jin and Serene. I miss the relative cushiness of that job, but also wonder how I would be fulfilled by working there again.

Thur. May 23, 2013
The Valley.
 Terrible traffic out of the Bay Area, but once I was in the foothills, I realised how beautiful parts of the drive to Yosemite are. It was always something I thought of as a chore, a necessary inconvenience to get to climbing. I wasn't prepared for my first glimpse of Half-Dome as I drove into the park. Note to self: don't listen to Sigur Ros when you are feeling melancholy.

The moon was full and low as I entered the park. I could not bring myself to look up at El Cap, Leaning Tower, Yosemite Falls etc. Looking at them made me feel too sad and whistful, about how I could get up these formations before rather than be stuck on the ground looking up.

I had procured a campsite in Upper Pines. Hearing some climbers in the adjacent site talk about their climbs - 5.9's, 5.10's that were walks in the park for me before...was this a mistake???

Really looking forward to meeting Kent tomorrow and then Gregg in Mammoth next week. I think company will make me feel better.

Half-Dome loomed over me as I got to the Valley floor. I couldn't take it in. Not yet.

As I cathed myself in the campground restroom, I felt a strange mixture of sadness and slight indifference - this is my reality. What choice do I have but to deal with it?

Setting up my tent alone, driving alone...I thought a lot about love, past loves, finding it and experiencing it again. The shared experiences climbing, camping etc with Justin contributed so much to our love - what if there is no activity I can share with a future partner? What if my preoccupation with medical school ruins my prospects of love, marriage, perhaps children?

I don't want to be sitting here at the picnic table, writing in the dark. I want to be cooking a shared meal with a partner, enjoying the tasty calories after a day of exertion.

Thinking about cutting this trip short - too painful.

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