I’m back in the Bay Area for a few days now before we head to Tuolumne and then up the California coast to the Lost Rocks, then eventually over to Ten Sleep, Wyoming where my travels will officially end. Well…that’s the plan, and we all know the nature of ‘plans’ when you’re 24 and living in a tent. It’s fitting that Ten Sleep will be my last destination–it was my last destination last summer as well. I also just love the hell out of that place, and it’s always on my mind, even when I am in Joshua Tree, or Bishop, or Yosemite, or Tahoe.
We spent the last few weeks climbing at Lover’s Leap near south Lake Tahoe in a small community called Strawberry. We had originally planned (there’s that funny word again) to climb there for just a few days and then head up to the other climbing areas in Tahoe, but we spent the whole two weeks at the Leap. We couldn’t leave. After the intensity of Yosemite with all of the tourists, the hustle and bustle of Camp 4, and the dizzying walls of granite, the laid back energy of Lover’s Leap was welcomed. Instead of everyone in the campground waking up at 4am to attempt to climb 903486703 pitches in a day, we would all wake up when the sun started to shine on our tents, sleepily make coffee and eat oatmeal, and eventually hike up to the cliff and climb a few pitches. The pines offered shade for warm afternoons and rest days were spent swimming in Lake Tahoe.
The climbing at Lover’s Leap is beautiful and the movement it provides is easy to flow with, one minute you’re on the ground and the next you’ve climbed three pitches without even noticing the time pass. Once we were able to calm down from the residual hype that the Valley left us with, we all took a deep breath and let ourselves rest. We climbed quietly and easily. I personally fell in love with climbing all over again at the Leap–especially trad climbing. The fear and teeth gritting and shaky legs melted away once I let go of wanting to be in complete control. I just climbed. It’s only been a few days since I have been off the ground and I’m already craving some air under my feet.
The whole trip has been one of the best times of my life. I love traveling and climbing more than anything. And while I still have a few months left on the road, today I am thinking ahead to where I will go and what I will do when the trip is over.
Earlier this morning I drove out to Half Moon Bay with my Dad. After he did some work, we sat outside in the early summer sun and ordered lunch. I kept on thinking about how lucky I am to be eating fish tacos and drinking IPAs with my Dad next to the ocean on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. I felt more than lucky, I felt blessed and beyond fortunate. I was happy. But there was something kind of eating at me, it wasn’t really a worry, but a question.
Dad, I have to figure out what I’m gonna do with my life.
He laughed and said, with your life?
He knew I was just being dramatic, and I was. But recently, I have felt a slight pressure to figure it all out and to get a job. Like normal people do. Maybe I could even be a normal person. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be able to say hi, my name is Georgie and I’m a doctor, teacher, firefighter, lawyer, whatever it is that normal people do nowadays? I could even have an apartment, I could be a regular at a coffee shop, I could have friends that I get to see every weekend, climbing buddies, maybe even a kitty?
But the more time I spend on the road, the weirder I get. Every time I come home I fit in less and less. I can hardly drive through Berkeley without having a panic attack. I can’t relate when someone tells me a story about how this guy didn’t text them back and they’re like, so mad. I can’t even pretend to know what those little dramas feel like anymore. Not because I’m above it or so enlightened that little things don’t get to me, but when you’re way the out in the middle of nowhere in the woods those things just don’t matter. And then you get back into society and everyone’s freaking out because they just know their boss is mad at them and they wanna lose five pounds and they lost an earring. But then I’m freaking out right next to them because I’m afraid to drive down Ashby and keep asking, is everyone talking really loud? why is everyone being so loud out here? So now everyone’s freaking out, and we’re all jacked up on coffee, and none of us really know what we’re doing with our lives.
Am I right?
That’s the thing, even the normal people are freaking out, the ones that have mainstream jobs and movie nights and kitties and plans (there’s that word yet again!). I don’t have any of those things. Some days I trick myself into believing I want those things, but really it’s just the comfort of being “normal” that I crave.
The funny thing is that all of my “normal” friends want my haphazard life, while sometimes I want their regimented routine, and in the end we’re all just jealous each other and not really that satisfied.
If I am honest with myself, I have no idea what I want to do when the trip is over or where I want to live. It’s not that I’m picky–I can happily work at any job as long as it involves helping other people and I can easily fall in love with a million different places. That’s the problem. I like too many things.
I do trust that answers will come, and I’m just trying to take in all of the confusion and questioning. It does get tiring though. Clarity is so comforting.
I have met a lot of climbers these past few months. They all seem slightly troubled and restless, like they aren’t quite at peace. They climb as a means to search, perhaps for clarity. I am this way too. But sometimes, when we all get quiet, there are moments when I am reminded that anything I outwardly seek is already contained within myself. It’s just a matter of revealing it.