When I reached the second waterfall crossing on my way back down I dropped to my knees and let the frigid water rush over my bloody hands. I looked out across the vast mountains and felt the dried salt on my eyelids with every blink and every move my eyeballs made. I looked down and tasted salt as the ends of my hair fell into my mouth, soaked from slapping between my sweaty shoulder blades for the last hard hour. I felt my ribs rise and fall together as my lungs burned from trying to bring in the thin air. I cupped water and brought it to my face and gasped a quick “Fuck!” at the temperature. I put my cold hands on the back of my neck and closed my eyes as I swore I could feel my body temperature coming down. I moved my feet into the water with me and felt the familiar sting across my toes and arches. My feet were bloody, too, which is nothing new. The best part about bombing down the side of a mountain is crossing your fingers and hoping that your feet will land exactly where your eyes are looking, but I don’t exactly have a 100% success rate with that. I looked out at the Indian Peaks and thought about how grateful I was for this water right now in this exact moment. You don’t get that in Flagstaff You also don’t get this hot in Flagstaff. I wondered how, in a place like this, sitting on the edge of treeline in a waterfall staring out at mountains that stretch for the rest of the state, my heart can still be pulled back toward that small town nestled at the base of the San Francisco Peaks. I rested my left cheekbone on my left kneecap and wondered what was wrong with me. How does anyone ever make any kind of decision? With a sigh that I’m sure sounded exaggerated I watched the water take away the stones that were embedded in my palms. I rolled my eyes upward and started to watch the dark clouds roll in, accompanied by the low roll of thunder. I didn’t exactly have time to waste.
Two hours later I was standing in Boulder’s Safeway staring an ex-coworker in the eye as I was trying to fulfill the dare “If you chug that entire thing right now I’ll buy it for you.” After roughly 12 ounces I could no longer hold back a small cough and had to come up for air. "I tried," I gasped. [And isn't that a fucking beautiful metaphor for the entirety that is my life right now] I’m absolutely wild for Naked’s Mighty Mango juice but I have yet to successfully drink all 64 fluid ounces of it without break. I have exactly a 0% success rate with that.
I drove to the Flatirons Vista or Vista Flatirons to do an easy four mile shakeout jog because I could feel my muscles having a little less than a billion rips in them. At least that’s what I'd rather you think, but my hands are still bloody so I’ll go ahead and pour the truth. I went there because I’ve been having anxiety about wanting and needing and flirting with the idea of moving back to Flagstaff and the last thing I wanted to do was go home and think about it and watch another episode of Girls for the third time and ask people their opinions only to have them reply with "Do what feels right." I enjoy this area because it has a view without having to work for it. I got a mile in and stopped and stared out at Eldo. I put my hands on my sweaty hips and winced at the sting of my wounded palms and with a deep breath exhaled a soft and understanding “Yeah” to myself and my thoughts and the empty space in front of me.
Last Christmas my sister bought me a leather-bound blank notebook because she knew I wanted it and I had the goal of writing in it every day. I wasn’t going for a “Dear Diary,” work but I felt like my life was going to change a lot in 2016 and I wanted to keep track of how I felt about all of it. I didn’t write every day and I still don’t because it’s too hard. I recently reread it (which was against my own rule) looking for a definitive answer as to why I moved here and why I should stay and also why I can't go back.
And there is nothing written because I do not have a 100% success rate with that.
But I looked out at Eldo from that vista and recalled my first multipitch, before I lived here. I was lucky enough to do Bastille as my first and have the route be (for the most part) quite empty. I didn’t understand that rarity until I started to spend time in Eldo regularly. Eldorado Canyon is where I placed my first piece of pro with confidence and thought, finally, I could lead trad. And these surrounding mountains is where I learned to love mountain running again. I have been here for four months and nine days, and I'm going to visit Flagstaff in less than a month.
So in that moment of my “Yeah” I found my appreciation for where I am. But that still doesn’t change the feeling of a relentless restlessness. I’d move back to Flagstaff in a heartbeat for one of two reasons, and in a dream world, two of two reasons.
But I don’t exactly have a 100% success rate for anything in my life. Sometimes you have to take 50, and sometimes you have to take 0.