Memory Climb

By Katiedid Langrock

July 28, 2018 5 min read

"I used to be interesting."

I got too used to saying that. It's part of the reason we moved to the wild. The memory of who I was — camping under the stars, rappelling down cliff sides, hiking into the vast nothingness — was still too clear to ignore. It hadn't drifted into the misty haze of happenings long past — you know, the place where one can't be sure whether one experienced adventures personally or just read about the adventures, such as snorting Pixy Stix or toilet papering your crush's backyard. No, the memories were clear, and they were calling me.

Funny thing about getting older. Your memories may stand the test of time, but your motivation? Yeah, not so much.

This past week, I was in the Virginia mountains, surprising my dad for his birthday. We sneaked in while he was in the bathroom and were sitting on the couch in the hotel suite, eating popcorn, when he returned. He jumped out of his skin and then laughed so hard tears squirted out of his eyes. But his jump was the smallest of the trip.

The resort where we were staying is meant for active families, with mountain biking, a water park, river tubing, golf, zip lines and much more. But there was only one thing on my must-do list: rappelling down the highest mountain peak's cliff side.

I begged my little brother to go with me.

We filled out the paperwork, signed our lives away and waited for the first of many chairlift rides to get up to the highest peak. In line for the lift, there was a clear view of a free-fall drop activity. The resort had erected a climbing wall with a platform at the summit. From there, the presumably suicidal would hook their harnesses to a bungee and jump.

I watched in awe as kids flung themselves off the platform and trusted that the bungee would gently deliver them to the large mattress below. The adults, however, seemed directionally challenged. They would move their bodies as if they were about to jump forward into the air but, miraculously, would wind up going 5 feet backward, their butts landing hard on the platform. It was as if a force was pushing them back and screaming, "Not today, old man! You want to live!"

Clearly, the adults wanted to jump. They thought they could jump. They had climbed up a huge wall in order to do so. But here they stood, or more accurately, crashed down onto their butts, trembling in fear. Some cried as the kids waiting in line behind them chanted, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

The image seared into my mind as the chairlifts carried my poor breakable body to the top of the mountain.

"I used to be interesting," I found myself saying to the 21-year-old who was explaining how to abseil. "I used to do this."

"That's cool," he replied. "Most old people get here, freak out and wish they had done it in their youth because they're too freaked to do it now."

I asked him why he thought older adults like me have a harder time.

"Brittle bones?" he replied.

The instructor explained how I was supposed to hold on to the rope by my hip and just lean back.

"Just lean back," I repeated, "over that cliff."

"Hold the rope tight and you won't die," he said.

And just sit on the air like Wile E. Coyote before he plummets to his death."

My face must have blanched.

"I thought you said you did this before," he said. I told him I had. A ton. But that was nearly two decades ago.

"Oh," he said. "Then don't do it. You were smart and had adventures when you were young and had the nerve. Most people who give up now will never get to say they've done it. I'll take your harness off."

I thought of those kids chanting "jump," and I flung myself off the mountain. My butt didn't hit anything but air.

The rest of me didn't get so lucky.

My arms, legs and shoulders are covered with scrapes and bruises from when the rope flung my body back into the cliff after I spitefully jumped off.

Small price to pay for the taste of an old self.

Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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