To the Top

(Stacey has encouraged us to visit new—and new-ish— bloggers this weekend. Yesterday I visited The Life of a Junior High Teacher whose post, “Vertical Climbing” inspired mine today. Thanks, Robin, this is one reason why I love the Two Writing Teachers Challenge !)

Retirement. Had. Come. My classroom door closed behind me, eighth grade graduation and the end-of-year celebration both lingered in the rearview. We had put our house in New Jersey on the market, and it had sold in two weeks. Oregon beckoned, the future.

But before my departure, my truest teacher friends, “the lunch bunch,” wanted to have a special party for me. Vanessa, a model of capable, get-it-done, fun-in-a-dynamo-fashion and my first-and-best asked me what I wanted to do.

“The Gravity Vault,” I replied without hesitation. She shook her head.

“Are you sure? I mean we could go into the NYC for a day (already in our collective memory bank) or Philly to, well, go anywhere you wanted.”

No…The Gravity Vault, an indoor climbing gym, had become a foothold in the rock wall of my imagination ever since a student had mentioned having gone there for the weekend. She said I’d love it.

My students knew that my local gym had a small climbing wall on a conveyor-belt-thing with adjustable foot holds. The pitch could also be adjusted. It wasn’t used by members very often, but it became my favorite. I’d turn on the music and climb to my heart’s content, until my muscles burned, without stopping. I loved it, became strong, became stronger. Spinning and climbing claimed me.

The Gravity Vault provided the perfect party site, and my friends made it happen. About a week before we were to move, the seven of us carpooled to Middletown, signed release waivers, and hooked up—for climbing!

Obviously I’m the oldest by a decade or more; I was the retiree, after all, but that day, I was the climbing-est. The kids who worked at the Vault soon realized that, despite my age, I was the one who wanted to go higher, climb longer. I was the reason we were there.

Eventually the group was sitting on the floor at the base of the steepest wall while I tackled it, even the phys ed teacher in our crew, looking up and cheering as I rose.

My friends did that for me—put me on top of the world!

6 thoughts on “To the Top”

  1. How great that your friends asked you what you wanted instead of planning what they wanted. I think the smiles in the picture says it all. Your post also shows that we should never assume what someone can or cant do just by looking at them.

    1. That is so true! The youngsters were pretty shocked. They kept encouraging me to try the higher walls with more difficult footholds. It was a wonderful day.

  2. “I was the climbing-est.” – an awesome title. This was a fabulous way to celebrate retirement. It shows you have lots of strength, energy and stamina to climb into the new hight of your life.

  3. That is so awesome…what a fun thing to do (even though I hate heights and never understand why people want to stand on top of mountains), I fully appreciate what you did!

    1. Thanks, Celia. We all have our stuff. It’s ironic because heights when I’m looking down make me completely queasy but when I’m on the ascent, no problem. The trick for me is not to look down!

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