Julie Nagan should change her name to Julie Naggin', because for three months she's been trying to get me to go to Vertical Endeavors. I always thought this was an insult. Not because she thought it'd be funny to see me clinging desperately to a rock, my feet slipping on my tears that have wetted their tiny perch. But because I had mentally mistaken it with this place—which I remember designing ads for back in my City Pages days—and thought she was giving me a hint.
But Thursday night I needed to escape the house and for something more than just Punch Pizza (though that's usually a good enough reason to put on pants). I had never attempted a climbing wall beyond that one at Bunker Beach and that's not intimidating—10 feet tall and above a pool. These walls are 50-60 feet tall.
And after fumbling with the auto belay for what felt like 10 minutes, I was afraid to pull my toes off the rubber chunks. I looked back at Julie and asked if she thought I could do it, because that baby pool rock wall was harder than I want to admit. I frantically climbed ten feet without looking down. And then I did.
Julie, I'm afraid of heights. I kind of forgot about that.
Julie didn't care. She cheered me on and I suppressed the feeling of my heart trying to kill me before the fall could. And I almost made it to the top of that first wall.
The knobs at Vertical Endeavors take on many shapes, like turtles, Aztek gods and cars. I felt a little sad when I looked down and saw this cute little guy, realizing I'd have to put my foot on his face.
Also, I was very poor at repelling.
Thank you, Julie, for nagging me to go. I finished a few walls and went back to take on that first terror. It was a perfect reason to get out of the house.