Inside the Wheels

I leave in an hour for Cleveland and Vancouver. I am going back into book tour mode. Last year, when that was about my only mode, I would try to climb each time I came home to Boulder. I would text potential partners the moment my plane touched down at DIA. Three, sometimes four leads in, I would get a yes. I would pick up the van in long term parking, drive home and make a list of what all I needed to do in the 12 hours before I went climbing: get dog, unpack, groceries, bills, eat, sleep, pack for climbing. Those first nights at home were never restful as I was caught between catching up with my body and soul after flying and demanding an entirely different level of performance the next day.

I’m doing it again. I’m loading pre- and post-speaking trips with climbing plans. It’s some sort of weird self-rationing behavior.

How much energy can you divide between desires? Do things only really flow if they get 100%? Somewhere inside me I think that I can shoot off 37 emails, write two proposals, have a conference call, and then head out for a quick vertical romp.

Maybe that worked last year—with rock climbing buttressing my other jobs. But now I’m in NH. In the winter. With ice. I moved here, in part, because that was the plan.

Ice is everywhere in the North Country. It is actually possible to get in a quick couple of pitches of frozen water here—too possible. You can see it out your door. But that vision also suggests that you should be able to just climb, well, at any moment. That you should be able to snap your tools into the ice with precision, know when to trust them, step up high, reach, and go again. That you can transition from reading international news briefs to reading ice. That the textual information with change to textural information.

I climbed 370 feet of ice yesterday. By the 320th foot, it felt normal. If I went climbing today, I could build on that. But I have to catch a plane. I’m giving three lectures and four interviews in the next five days. Based on my ice experience, by the last interview it will feel normal. And then I will get on another plane and come home. It’s a sick sort of personal challenge. But I’m working on a new plan, at least in my luggage.

Here’s the list: high heels, chalk bag, credit card machine, harness, puffy jacket, white coat, climbing shoes. They are all going with me this time, so I can keep trying to layer versions of myself upon each other until I can no longer tell which is which.