I was talking to McKenzie briefly at the end of her shift at the climbing gym when T walked in the door. I gave him a big hug. I was so glad to see him! He just finished the first week of his new job and I am so proud of him! I think this job will be a great job for him after he gets used to it and gets past the first few months of it. He landed a good one! “Get your shoes on, we’re climbing tonight,” he said to me. I warmed up on the upstairs bouldering wall and then came back down to the main floor. By that time, T had tried most of the new problems on the main bouldering wall. He is a much better climber than I am, but as I lose weight, I am becoming a stronger climber, so I will catch up eventually. T is a more experienced climber than I am, too, with a few more years under his belt. Speaking of belts, I worry about him. I do not want him to lose any more weight than he already has! He is still muscular and fit, but I cannot help worrying about my buddies. That is just something I do.
I attempted a black problem and it was a bit cryptic in nature. I feel like all of the bouldering problems since our five main route setters left, T included, are just trick problems–nothing you would actually ever climb, with moves that could really get somebody hurt. It is disappointing, really, but not unexpected. I do not know any of the initials on the tags indicating who set the problems this last week, but I am sure they have little experience.
I would set for them, but they are going to have to ask me, now that the conversation with Heath about me being “inefficient” was had long ago and was rather insulting, especially after I helped them get the new gym all set up in time for them to open on the dates they had told the community they would be opening. That really hurt my feelings. I was just learning, but at least I could set. I could set a mean V4 every time, too! Now all the gym is left with is “inefficiency”, since all of their main route setters have left. I do not fit their “image”, so to speak, though. “Must be physically fit,” it says almost immediately on the sign, and I do not fit their image of “physically fit”. I know this from a series of conversations that I have had with an unnamed person that is, I am sure, concerned with my welfare, but definitely does not want me to be a representative of any sort for the climbing gym. I may not be a super model, and I am not anorexic-looking, but I am extremely strong and what they may percieve as fat is a tremendous amount of muscle mass underneath. I am a person who has always put on a lot of muscle mass as long as I am exercising, and climbing is definitely a full-body exercise. Yes, I am overweight, but I am losing weight and getting in shape. It would be interesting to see if, at some point in my weight loss when my “image” changes, they ask me to help them or work for them.
I do not think that they have figured out yet that climbing gyms in a rural state like Montana are not about Disney-style looks and flashy, dazzling people. It is about the Average Joe, especially if you are looking for new memberships to keep your gym alive while you have a dissatisfied core climbing community. Insulting them does not help. If they asked me to, I would be a part of their team and help them, but they are going to have to ask. I can put differences aside for the sake of what I love doing in life–climbing–and I can forgive when an apology is offered. Not being able to set routes for the gym has deeply hurt me, but I still climb because it helps me manage my PTSD and it is my calling. It really is a shame, though, that looks are everything. There are many talented people in the world who never get a shot at living the dream because of their “looks”. I have fought that all my life, even in the military.
I have been fortunate to get to know some fish from bigger ponds who have given me other opportunities–opportunities that could turn into living the dream because these people believe in me and my abilities. They recognize my raw talents and my work ethic. Most of all, they appreciate me. It is truly a gift to be genuinely appreciated for who you are. So, to the MyClimb Team, thank you for believing in me!