The Game Changer
… the next instalment of my journal, chronicling a year of change ..
My potential bouldering buddy and fellow disco queen had been top rope and outdoor climbing for years, she took climbing holidays with her then husband and friends. She stopped climbing from one day to the next and only continued bouldering when a friend of hers suffered a terrible accident. This friend was doing a routine indoor climb, an exercise, something she was comfortable with. She was having a fun afternoon indoor climbing with her husband and friends. For one second she was inattentive and put her harness on incorrectly. It wasn’t a problem going up, she didn’t slip. But when you get to the top you let go of the holds and let your partner lower you down using the top ropes. She came out of her harness and fell eighteen metres. The doctors said it was a miracle she survived, but she is a cripple. Her feet are smashed, many bones are smashed. Her husband was there to see it.
My bouldering buddy decided that she would never climb again. She said that if this mistake could happen to her friend, it could happen to anyone.
I remember climbing in Australia and being shown how to use the harness. The instructors emphasised that this hook should point this way, and the other one that way. Important details. I remember once, at the beginning of a practice sessions, I had one of the two hooks facing the wrong way and my climbing partner corrected it. I think I thought ‘Oh well, it would have been alright anyway’. And chances are it would have been. Or maybe it wouldn’t have been. I certainly wasn’t going to be glib like that again. I sent a message to him and told him this story, I urged him to never, ever, ever let his attention wander for even a second. Stating the bleeding obvious, but this woman had climbed for years and years and got something wrong just once.
My new bouldering buddy had moved here four years ago. She mentioned that her husband goes out a lot more because he has an old network here, whereas she has ‘just’ moved here. When I realised that she had been here for four years and still not built a network I felt somewhat validated. I am not the only one who finds it difficult.
She also told me that when she came back from her baby break she was so self conscious about her climbing that she went during the most quiet times, so nobody would watch her. And she is a good climber. I’m glad I am not the only one who fights this battle of feeling that I look stupid in comparison to the various spider men who populate the hall.
Still no proper internet at home and am burning through the expensive surfstick allowance. Not having it and not being able to catch up with my game changer, unthinkable.
I spoke to him tonight and asked me what my plan is. I said I didn’t know, I didn’t want to stay in the job but had not idea beyond that. He told me that I need a plan, he even encouraged me to stay with the money for a bit longer, because money is sweet when you are not earning any.
For the first time in my life I am prepared not to have a plan and I am ok with that. It feels pretty damn good actually.
I am getting used to not laughing. It sucks.
I am also getting tired of my own negativity. My negativity and fear are beginning to feed on themselves.
Had to think of a conversation I had several years ago. I had taken an acting course, while I was studying law. I had been interested in doing some acting and never ‘acted’ on it, thinking that it just wasn’t for me, I wasn’t good enough. Out of stubbornness I went to some workshops. I met one of my fellow students at my house for a rehearsal. She brought this delicate pair of gloves as props. I asked her about them, and she said that she was an artist. She added that she was trying to be an artist, properly. Her husband was supporting her while she was taking some time off to work on her paintings. She said she was really worried about going out on a limb, and would she make it, and what if she exhibited and people hated her work. Yes, I agreed with all her comments. I said all the things she had heard a thousand times. It’s hard to make a living, most people fail, we all need to earn our way. All that.
After she left I was annoyed with myself for just regurgitating the same old standard view. So I sent her an email. I apologised for having been negative. I told her not to give other people power over her. So what if they didn’t like her art? There would always be people who wouldn’t like her art, you can never please everybody. But she would like her art …. and what if someone else did? How wonderful would that be? I encouraged her to work on her paintings and exhibit them … and that I would want an invitation to that exhibition. She thanked me for the email, and said it meant a lot to her.
Around six months later I got an invitation to her exhibition. The acting course had been over for a while, we had not been in touch. I went, and bought one of her paintings, it spoke to me as soon as I saw it.
I love that story.
The painting shows a man in front of the opening in a large rock wall. Light seems to shine out of it, but there is darkness as well. The man is diminutive in front of the massive rock, the gap is menacing and promising at the same time.
That night my heart palpitations started, and I went to hospital the next afternoon, and I think this journey I am on started then.
Now I am doing the same thing, I am giving negativity power over me. Two minor issues are that I don’t have financial support, so could fall a lot harder than she did, and I don’t actually know what I want.
A young colleague who is serving out his training contract has asked me what the hell I am doing here, in this town.
That pain in my heels has been really bad for the last few weeks. I had a reprieve there for a while, things seemed to get better, and I thought I was through it …. and it came back with a vengeance, punishing me for not having been as vigilant with my exercises as I should have been. Out of sight, out of mind, and I should have known better. And now the pain is relentless again, pain with every step I take. My left foot has swollen as well, because I am compensating when I walk and putting strain on it. My left calf is bruised from all the massages I give it, which are still not enough.
The less I dance the less I miss it.
People tell me that things ‘will get better’. That doesn’t fill me with confidence at all. It sounds like I will just ‘get used to it’, and things will be ‘okay’.
I had ‘okay’, I had better than ‘okay’, and I walked away from it.
I want jubilation. I may not get it, but I want to at least aim for it.
My corsets have finally arrived in the right size, and so there is no more excuse, I will book in that photo shoot. I am scared shitless, and I don’t even have a date yet. I have never considered myself to be photogenic, and have no idea whether I will be able to relax enough in front of the camera of a stranger to produce something that doesn’t look woefully clumsy and awkward.
I have completed two alcohol free nights. I wanted to see whether I could, and whether I would feel any different. The answers are yes and no. No need to pencil another one in then.
Cried last night, again. Once in a while it those tears creep up on me. I feel wonderful when I talk to him, and a few hours later I cry. What we ‘have’ is temporary. I still want to tell him first, about my corsets, about my alcohol free nights. About everything. The few people who know about him tell me my feelings will fade. Not sure that I want them too, at least I am feeling something. If only I could spend more time with him to find out about those annoying habits he has, maybe eventually he would just piss me off too much and I would be glad to see the back of him. No such luck.
I want the pain to fade, but not the good memories. Is that possible?
It must be nice to be so adored.
Came home last night to no power. Another administrative error I would never have committed a few months ago. I was late with my registration, thinking I had another week or so.
Luckily I am not averse to having crisps for dinner occasionally. Not having power had an upside. I tend to spend a lot of time on the computer, just pissfarting about, searching for ‘stuff’.
So last night I danced with my beautiful feather fans by candle light. I was not myself, I was this other, more exotic, woman.
The things in my fridge survived well on the balcony.
Got a sharp pain in my right elbow when I went bouldering, great.
Luckily the power was back on first thing in the morning …. I craved a cup of tea more than I did wine last night, even after my two alcohol free nights. All I needed now was for the internet connection to go ahead as planned.
It didn’t. I called up and was advised that the technician had turned up and nobody was there. Well, it transpired that he had gone to the old address. Ok, I thought, sure that can be fixed easily. Not so, it seems. As the address was now different, the order process would have to start from the beginning. It would take two to four weeks. I thought I was going to explode. I live in the middle of town, it’s not as though they have to dig a new trench. The cost for those overpriced surfsticks will just go through the roof.
Bring Brighton this weekend, it will be pure delight.
Getting here wasn’t pure delight. The logistics were a nightmare and if I had thought about it properly I probably wouldn’t have come. But I am glad I came, I needed to. A train, a bus, a flight, a train — all because I was trying to keep the costs down. Then I was in London and realised that all trains to Brighton had already stopped. Why hadn’t I researched this???
I walked around London Bridge and considered my options. I could walk and walk and walk until 5 in the morning and take the first train. Stupid idea. I could go to the train station and sit down and wait for hours and hours for that same first train. Equally stupid idea. I am neither broke nor a student. And I didn’t want to ruin my weekend in Brighton by being exhausted. So I took a room in a hotel at a whopping price for five hours sleep. I didn’t care. The money I had saved by my disjointed and lengthy journey turned into a spectacular loss. You just have to laugh.
I checked my emails in the hotel lobby and my game changer had written.
The day before I had had this idea. I wanted to get dressed up in my corset. Do my hair and make up. And then I wanted to call him on skype. I wanted him to see what he was missing. My window was small, we normally skyped roughly at the same. I messaged that I was flying out and asked whether he had time. He called twenty minutes later, as soon as he saw my message. I had been teetering around in my heels, freezing in my corset, for thirty minutes or so. I had wanted to create the full effect, strike the Varga girl pin-up pose. I only had a few minutes before having to get changed to go to the airport, and before the damn surfstick was going to die again.
Heart hammering in my chest I propped one leg up on the chair, pushed my derrière out, looked back over my shoulder at the camera and clicked on the receiver button while desperately trying to stop the chair from swivelling. He went ‘Wow’. Then the connection died, I hadn’t even had a few minutes. But it was perfect.
It was me who had done that, me. I always avoid being in photographs because I don’t feel photogenic. Putting myself out there like that is just alien to me. And I did it.
When I read his email and he said that I had made his day.
After the most expensive and delicious five hours’ sleep I have ever had, I headed to Brighton this morning and walked straight down to the foreshore. I think I skipped the last few metres. When I lived here a few years ago the sight of the foreshore never lost its charm for me, and I don’t think it ever will. I walked along it every day for one and a half years and loved it on every one of those days, no matter what the weather.
I walked to my friend’s place, and when she opened the door it was like I had seen her yesterday. It was just so nice. The family noises around me were comforting.
We brunched, walked the lanes, walked along the foreshore. My friend’s little son wanted me to go on the scary ride on the Brighton Pier with him. As soon as the ride started, he shouted that he didn’t want to die. I held him and laughed at the same time.
Despite best intentions I bought a dress. I really, really don’t need another dress since I want to give up work and bum around for a while. And yet, I fell at the first orange and multi coloured floral hurdle. Oh well, I will be a well dressed unemployed soul searching bum.
And my game changer is the first I want to tell about all the small stuff.