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Thursday November 30, 2000, 02:24

There's a great big empty hole somewhere (if I might lay on the melodrama rather thick here) inside of me that I think could be filled with a good story or two if I just had the experiences to back them up. But considering the only things that I've done lately have been within the scope of my suburban hometown, that is going to be a bit difficult. I did go visit the firehouse with my father, volunteer firefighter extrodiaire, but that really is not so exciting from my side of things.

I suppose I could make some stuff up, but I don't know enough about fighting fires to do so. So I won't.

Oh! How could I forget! I finally went climbing for the first time in like forever on Monday. This marked a very momentous occasion for me as it was the first time in what seemed like ages (though what was in reality mere days) that I had gone out to interact with real live people. And more than that: peers! Indeed my transition back to a life I once had also means a transition into doing things with people with whom I once did things. Follow that?

So the exciting thing about climbing wasn't the irony of the situation given that both my friend (who lives in New Jersey) and I (who live in the suburbs) both went into Manhattan (which is an enormous city) to go climbing, which is ostensibly an outdoor sport and one that should be experienced on rocks in the middle of the woods, or at least in climbing gyms in large abandoned barns. But not in the public space on 62nd and Broadway. But, as much as I love irony, it was not that particular aspect of the experience which so thrilled me.

Instead, it was the instant fame.

Oh ho! I have your attention now I see. Interestingly enough, this particular climbing facility, besides being staffed by the usual assortment of climbing rats, also had a fairly sizable outdoor portion, a piece of climbing wall outside of the glass-enclosed wall-and-cafe area right on the sidewalk. What this meant was that people walking by, old couples out for their evening constitutionals, would stop and watch as young adults clipped themselves into ropes and ascended up concrete walls. Granted, the audience is rather distracting for those actually trying to do a climb without looking like too much of a weakling (guilty as charged), but for those of us on the ground who could flash smiles and pretend to be "good," the thrill was certainly there.

I've not been up a wall in several months now, since about the time that I was living up in Boston and writing a lot in my journal and hating my job and all, so it's a bit of an understatement to say that I'm a bit out of shape. I suppose it helped that there were some lessons going on there as well, which meant that there were a lot of people there to whom I actually looked pretty decent. I mean my climbing skills. I look pretty darn decent to most people. Easy on the eyes, you know?

Suffice it to say that the next day, I was unable to make a fist. But standing there outside, chalk on my butt and a million-dollar smile in my mouth1, I was feeling pretty good. I looked over at the crowd and flashed them another smile for luck. They took one last glance up at my friend on the wall and walked away.

"Your audience has left," I called up to her.

"It's about time," she muttered back.



1. I had braces as a child. And a retainer. And a thing called a bianator, which sounds like something out of Star Trek, not that I watch, or even particularly like, Star Trek. People often find it surprising that I don't know how to do math very well, nor do I like Star Trek, and yet I'm a computer weenie. I don't really know what to say to that except that I spent much of fifth grade banging my head on almost anything I could, which probably resulted in mild brain damage. But othodontic work is really expensive, so I suppose it's a good thing that I never threw out my retainer in the trash at lunch like some people I know.

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