elaine climbing 1993

A friend came by and brought with her a couple of pictures of me from 1993. They show me rock climbing and I exhibit such confidence, power, beauty and joy that I had a moment where I wanted to be her again. What happened to that girl? When did I become too afraid to tackle a rock face or rappel off a 12 story building? When did I loose that self confidence and that easy way of standing? It’s so easy for me to become idealistic about that time. But to be honest, 1993 was a really hard year in my life. A friend was killed, my world was changing, I had an actual breakdown (short, but rather dramatic). So much was shit. But I look at these photos and I can’t help but become nostalgic for who I used to be.

Of course, in those days if I got arrested for urban climbing, I’d only have my parents to answer to and not a nursling to worry about. If I fell off a rock, my life would be mourned, but I’d not have any children to leave behind. These days, with tiny faces turned up to me in wonder, I am so much more cautious with everything. One of my biggest fears is to leave them without a mother. Call me selfish, but I don’t want anyone else to be the one they call mommy. I want, more than anything in the world, to see them learn and grow and hear their thoughts about the world. I love watching them discover something new and can’t even fathom the idea that I could miss all of it, through one careless act.

And then? Crap. Then I start thinking about them pulling these kinds of stunts. I start thinking about all the risks they will take in their life and find my heart thumping at what little control I have. I comfort myself by looking at my mom and thinking, she raised two kids without too much horror, it can be done.

Tonight as I put Lily to bed, I lay next to her in the dark and listened as she told me all the things she planned to dream about (trees, houses, broccoli, hot dogs, mommy and daddy, her dog, the park...). I told her I loved her and smiled as she replied in kind. I resisted telling her she wouldn’t really understand what love is until she held a child of her own one day. I resisted telling her to be safe, so she’d get that chance. I resisted the thousands of words that pushed at my heart, knowing that I just can’t tell her; she’ll have to learn on her own. Besides, if she believes me, she might never know the joy of standing on top of a rock, wind at her back and adrenaline coursing through her body. And as much as I fear her fall, I also envy her freedom and the long line of risk she has yet to walk. There is so much to experience in this world. I just hope I have the courage to let her embrace it.

elaine on rock 1993