Ted and Kendra Eliason spent a gray morning with me at a coffee shop, waiting out the potential hail storm. Kendra and I snickered over an article titled “Why You Should Never Date a Rock Climber”. Number five had us rolling in laughter: “If you’re the jealous type, forget about dating a climber chick. You love it when she sports that tight, skimpy Spandex while working up a hot sweat. But dude, she does the same thing when you’re not around, in front of all the other guys. A few of them, BTW, are hotter, stronger, smarter and richer than you are.”
I lament over my personal dating life occasionally, when things settle down and I have some quiet time to myself. When I lived in Brooklyn full-time, I had trouble fitting dating into my life. I used to casually date but ultimately felt guilty because I was leaving the city often, and usually for days in a row. I didn’t have the time to dedicate to a relationship unless they wanted to come with me, but that didn’t happen because, you know, reality.
Recently, I discovered that my last three boyfriends were married or soon to be, and it hurt in the way that you would expect it to. They moved on. I guess that I moved on too, but not in the same way. I chased mountains. I followed the weather. I wanted to go climbing as much as humanly possible and I was moving around so much that there was no way that any boy could hurt me. He could get attached and I could move on–I told myself that it kept me from getting emotionally clobbered. And I just didn’t want any attachments.
I’m a pretty cautious climber because, from my experience, it’s the fall that hurts the most. Most people genuinely enjoy the early stages of a relationship, but I exercise the same caution when it comes to dating. The simple truth of the matter is, I get terrified when I think about the rug being pulled from underneath me again. We use pro is there to keep us safe, right? And at the same time, I crave openness and love at the same time. Just like a bold climb, part of the scariness can be really beautiful. But the scary part of a rock climb is falling and injuring yourself. The scariness of grown-up relationships is the transparency of it all. You’re advertising to the world, it seems: This is me! This is who I am, here is a shortcoming between us, and please don’t judge me. Please accept me.
Ted and Kendra have been married for several years, and they told me that climbing is the thing that connects them. I think that’s beautiful. In my naivety, I have wanted it in the past: the perfect climbing relationship. But that was when I was a more selfish person, or so I’d like to believe. I hope that I’m not as selfish. I’d like to think that my perspective has grown because it takes so much more than “baby, I love you”, a cam and a bottle of wine to create relationships with real substance. (It definitely sounds appealing though.)