The Camelback Scar

It was hot…very hot.  Maybe if Spring had arrived on time in North Carolina instead of playing hooky until mid-April, I would have been more prepared for the Arizona heat.  However, late-March was still being pretty cruel to the southern states.  A sixty-degree day was looking pretty sexy.

The day we decided to climb Camelback Mountain, the giant pile of rocks that pops out of nowhere upon entering Scottsdale, the sun rose laughing at us.  It knew our destinies, even if we didn’t.  I assumed it would be fine…after all, I’m from the land of humidity.  I’d take the dry heat and leave it crying like a little girl when I was through.  I’d been going to the Pure Barre Studio for two months now, and was feeling pretty cocky about my lower body strength too.  I threw on some yoga pants, a hat, and a smile.  I was going to go walk the little trail, with my little smart water in hand and have a dandy day.  I was already thinking ahead to what kind of beer I’d grab afterwards.  A good day loomed.

My husband and I had ventured out west to visit a friend and her husband while he was in Spring Training.  My friend, Susan, my husband, Kimsey, and I decided to hike one day instead of go to the game.  We started trotting up the ankle of Camelback, swinging our iPhones, chatting about where we’d be eating dinner later, already salivating over the famed butter cake. 

It got a little steeper, and we panted a little bit, as expected.  The conversation started trailing, and we were feeling a little proud we were now conquering the tourist attraction, breaking our tiny sweats.  We got to the first overlook, patted ourselves on the back, and took our first rounds of pictures.  Honestly, I thought our mini journey was almost over.  Then I look over and see Susan, perusing a sign with her eyes widening underneath her aviators.

“What?”  I mosey over.

“Holy shit,” she scoffs pointing to our only warning.

I then reviewed the sign informing me that about 75 people per year get rescued off the mountain, that it only gets harder from here, and that I should be carrying with me about ten safety items I did not have.  I glanced down at my sports bra that supported my phone more than anything and looked over at my husband who held the bottle of water the three of us were sharing.  I then took inventory of the little chart that showed how steep things would get.  It looked like a line graph of Mark Cuban’s income stream.

“Umm-Can we do this?” I asked wondering if we were insane.

Somehow we decide we can, and while putting the rising temperature out of our heads, begin the real journey. The first truly scary stretch we came to went practically straight up and touted a slick metal hand rail for us to hoist ourselves with.  I didn’t know if I could or would do this.  I was no experienced hiker.  Frankly, I was afraid.  Somehow, at the same time, I was more afraid of turning around and starting back down that mountain like so many others were.  So, I just started doing it. My hands were sweaty and at one point I thought I would fall backward and boosted myself off another man’s shoe while my husband pulled me up by the arm.  After that, I got a newfound strength.  I just wasn’t going to be afraid.

I climbed several more segments of uphill formations, surveying which rocks to grab, and deciding whether to go upright or on hands and knees. I drifted from right to left, deciding which side would accept me.  I coughed sand out of my lungs and embraced the sharp stones that attempted to leave their marks on my shins.  I no longer thought of the summit, or why I’d come in the first place.  I just thought of the moment, where I was, where to put my foot, and the strange pleasure it gave me the harder it was.  I was disappointed and exhilarated at once each time the trek worsened.   I wanted it to be hard.  I wanted to get marred.  I wanted to sweat.  I wanted to raise hell right back at the sun, and I wanted it to hurt.  I was climbing of the hump of the camel’s unforgiving back now.

This attitude wasn’t like me.  I’m not the girl who camps in the wilderness, or jumps into dark water.  I don’t climb rocks or go on solo kayaking trips.  I don’t do these things.  However, now that I was, I hoped it was tough.  I wanted to wrestle it to the ground, and know it was something real, and that not everyone could do it.

After nearly two hours of the grueling voyage I’d made it to the top.  I bent over, put my hands on the knees, just panting.  When I could breathe again, I remembered I had a prize waiting, and stood up to enjoy the view that would be my reward.  It was an amazing view.  It was a view of hustle an bustle, people hugging, taking pictures.  People chugging out of their canteens. People scurrying.  People who were alive.

The scenery was to die for.  I could see for forever…rock formations, clouds, never-ending skies, but that didn’t do it for me.  I saw people reaching goals, accomplishing something. I saw people proving they could do something tough, and extraordinary. I saw people refusing to quit.  I saw Susan jumping up and down, and my husband conquering his fear of heights.  I saw success.

I’m not a great outdoorsman.  I probably won’t set my sights on Everest.  What I am though, is a go-getter.  I’m a writer who had another experience that made her remember she CAN.  I’m not staring at the summit of the writing world, but I’m not at the bottom either.  I’m somewhere in the middle, in the momentum, in the rocks of Camelback guessing which rocks are the sturdy ones, and I’m going to keep on.  It leads somewhere…I know.  I’ve been to a different form of that place…same kind of battle.  The very same, and I slayed that camel. 

I have a little wound left on my right ankle where a rock scraped me.  It’s a scar less than an inch long.  People laugh when I show them my Camelback injury.  I love it though, because it’s a part of Camelback I carry around.  It’s my souvenir…that it was hard, it hurt a little, and that it was worth it. I realized I want to be a collector of scars, more than anything.  And being a writer, that’s a good thing to be ok with…I guess that goes for really wanting anything.  I hope everyone goes and gets themselves a Camelback kind of scar.

     

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Uphill battle!

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Wow

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Me in the mountainside:)

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We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wishful Thinking

I think maybe I actually like this time of year. I am constantly complaining about the cold, wet weather, or lack of sunshine. I am in despair over the lack of coconut scents trailing about me. I’m bored to tears watching the world from behind glass. I look down at my white legs, and immediately contact a spray tan specialist. I’m miserable…

However, I don’t know if I ever long more than in the heart of January. I don’t know that I fantasize, daydream, and wish more than in January. I find myself buying tropical air fresheners, googling sunsets on the Charleston harbor, picking out bathing suits on Victoria’s Secret’s website, and maybe even shaving my legs for spite. I keep going because I know I have something magical to look forward to. I suppose if it were always summer, that would be as good as it gets. What would I have to pine for?

That poses another question. Is wishing for something better than actually getting it? I don’t know if a wish is better than the actual moment a dream comes true, but it might be better than the continuation of it. There’s nothing more great than having possibilities. There’s nothing sweeter than feeling like you’re almost there. Maybe that second right before you know the best is coming, but you’re sure of it, is the best. That is quite a small second too.

Much like summer, moments in life like this are quick to pass us by. That’s why it’s important to work towards goals, and let yourself yearn insatiably. It hurts in a way to just have a yen for something that may be an impossible dream. However, it’s far worse to want for nothing at all. Therefore, we need the winter, because we need things to make us squirm. When we squirm we move, and when we move, we do. I will keep close to me, the apple’s of my eye. I can brush their fingertips now, and it’s just enough to keep me hungry.

Oh, the Possibilities

I’m a big fan of possibilities.  I love games of chance, dare-to-be-great situations, and prospects of new beginnings.  I love to watch it all unfold, and admire in an awestruck fashion, how it all came together.  Because of this, I’m always hungry.  I feel like a shark, combing the waters for something better than plankton.  I want a new fish to fry, one that gives me different meaning for a season.  It keeps me sane, or maybe insane, the possibilities.  I’m certainly not too rational to live my life this way…

I’m a cheerleader for making resolutions.  I think everyone should do it. It’s an excuse to examine the parts of your life that feel empty of purpose, and give it some.  Our purpose validates our existence, and the options are endless.  I love feeding off the buzz of others, knowing everyone is setting their goals for the coming year.  I like to be part of the hustle and bustle.  I want that energy, that purposefulness.  I need goals, and lots of ’em.

This part of my personality can make me appear wishy-washy to some…maybe I’m a bit of a shiny object chaser.  I don’t know, but it works.  It’s not wrong to be a nomad, as long as you’re a healthy one.  We don’t want to be standing on the side of the roads holding signs, but we also don’t want to be standing inside our own prisons that are painted beige and smell like printer paper either. 

I just see so many colors, flavors, assortments, and I want those things in the moment.  I don’t really care if my pursuits are illogical.  That’s what makes life great, and I spent too long of a time fearing the bright things.  If we came into this world knowing what everyday would be, where would the purpose exist?  We would be robots.  However, there is this great thing, a feisty thing, that makes us search for new stars to reach all the time.  Some of that time will inevitably be spent groping around in the dark.

The point is: make goals.  Challenge yourself to do something you want.  It is the greatest therapy.  Take up tap dancing, quit your job to make/sell rocking chairs, grow that mangy beard, see that island you never want to spend the money on…do it.  Track it like a lion, with planning and perserverence…then DO IT!  On January 1st, the calendar gives you a place to start in case you couldn’t find one.  Whatever that thing is, business or pleasure, if it’s knocking at your door from the inside, let it out.  The possibilities are endless.:)

Taking the Mulligan

    I started contemplating the point of New Year’s resolutions.  Would I make a list of demands on myself to carry out starting January 1st, or would I sit back and laugh at how cliche’ and typical the people are who do?  The cool kids group would probably perch on their sideline high horses watching the soccer Moms power walk around the local high school track , or scoff at the 40-year-old man, who suddenly decides to take up bicycling dressed up in his new Lance Armstrong wear.  They are way too hip for such ventures.  Even the nicer crowd, not famous for poking fun at others, tend to spew things about how ridiculous it is to put expectations on one’s self because of the date on the calendar.  We should exercise self-control and healthy lifestyles year-round, right?  Deciding this just because the ball drops in Time Square is a little weak for people who are truly in touch with reality, isn’t it?

     I disagree.  I think New Year’s resolutions are a great idea, and they compliment the way the human psyche ticks.  We need new beginnings.  Psychologically, when we see the opportunity to erase the old, and start the new, we feel like things are possible for us again.  It’s the only way we can justify giving ourselves a pass in what was, and a door to what could be.   Moreover, without a catalyst, I think sometimes we just don’t stop to regroup and realize, we CAN change, and that it’s time.  

     It isn’t only the new year that incites the need to make vows…newness in general does it.  When we buy new homes, purchase new clothes, get new haircuts, or start new jobs we often feel okay enough about things to at least toy with the reset button. Especially as Americans, we tend to not believe in failure.  We tend to turn our noses up to do overs, but there’s a loophole.  A do ever is written into the calendar for us. If each year, the very time-table we live by gives us this chance, then by all means we should take it.  It’s a gift. 

    Another example comes to mind.  November was National Novel Writing Month.  Of course, writer’s don’t have to wait on November to roll around to start a new project.  However, the fact that everyone else in the field is getting geared up stirs up the mojo.  It is the collective chance for a new beginning.  For a few months I’d been pouting about the fact that my first completed novel had yet to be picked up.  Why should I start a new project?  November got me thinking…I write because it’s what I do, and I could forgive myself for not receiving that coveted letter from the perfect agent in the mail. I had the power to start something new because November reached out and offered me a new beginning…a clean tablet to write on.  It validated me, and it was just what I needed…a new round of query letters went out yesterday…

     The point is the prospect of new starts work…they make us try a little harder.  They pull the trigger for us.  Let’s not defy it out of some self-righteous rule we’ve created; let’s embrace it, take the mulligan and watch that next shot soar straight to the green.