Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

Without going into any details, I’ll mention that I had a very stressful week with potentially dire consequences, and for roughly half a day, I wanted to curl into a little ball in a very dark corner of my room and contemplate why my life’s worth continuing.

But fortunately, I had plans this weekend.

This weekend, my sister visited. And if you haven’t noticed, I tend to write blog posts after seeing my sister; it’s not like nothing really happens in-between visits, but it’s very close.

Yesterday we visited someone’s apartment to celebrate world rat day. By the way, world rat day’s on April fourth so merry world rat day. To be completely honest, I never thought I’d type world rat day so many times in such a short amount of time. In Texas (because I don’t know how everyone else in the world celebrates a specific species of rodents), there are two annual rat socials: world rat day and rat-fest. On these events, facebook members of the Texas rat community gather, and usually, there’s food, good company, a gift exchange, a raffle, and cake. By no means am I an expert of rat events, but if it were up to me, there should always be cake. If you haven’t noticed by my previous blog posts, I’m very socially awkward in group events. Furthermore, I’ve never had pet rats and I’m not associated with the facebook community in any way, shape, or form. And regardless of these faults, everyone was really nice. There was a diverse group, primarily women with the exception of a dad who brought his daughter, but the atmosphere was light and conversation pieces were casual. And although the banter varied from movies to other pets (primarily cats), you could tell that everyone in the room deeply cared about rats, and their rats had shaped their lives in some way. A lot of people own cats and dogs, but only a small minority of those people share the tenor of a community. Whether it’s through making fantastic rat crafts, donating to the rat rescue, or sharing pictures and videos, the people of the rat community weren’t pet owners, but they were rat parents, involved with their babies’ lives, interests, and well-being.

And I don’t have a good segue, but someone made an awe-inspiring cake of rat lying on top of the globe, and since majority of the globe was blue due to all the oceans, everyone’s lips and tongues were blue from all of the icing and it looked like a smurf massacre.

On Sunday we visited Arlington, Texas to experience a little indoor rock climbing. Dyno-rock climbing center is tucked away along the backstreets of the Dallas Cowboy Stadium, which from a distance resembles either half of the Star War's Death Star or an assembly plant for the AT-AT Walkers. Seriously, the stadium’s more intimidating than the football team assuming their reputation precedes themselves. And although I was really excited about indoor rock climbing, I was a little skeptic. Believe it or not, when I'm away from the computer, I don't really work out. Even in my athletic heyday, I ran track and cross-country where it was socially acceptable to accomplish less than twenty push-ups in a row as long as you could run a sub-five minute mile. Furthermore, it was a gorgeous day, and with Six Flags Over Texas (the original) just a few miles away, it was tempting to skip indoor rock climbing altogether. Fortunately, we went indoor rock climbing. And it was awesome. Compared to most people, I haven't really experienced much in my life, but my list of accomplishments seems further shorthanded when compared to my sister's list of adventures. She's varied her antics from skydiving and paragliding to camping and rafting, and of course, she's rock climbed. To be honest with you, I haven't even caught a fish in real life except at a boat expo where it was guaranteed. I specialize in digressing. In any case, I'm not very comfortable trying something new, and driving into the warehouse converted indoor rock climbing center with its blaring rock music and twenty something year old climbing experts, I was a little intimidated. Don't take it personally, it doesn't take much. But while my sister was smoking next to a presumed to be a homeless person's shopping cart on the side of the building, we noticed a ten year old, along with their parent, walk into the climbing center. Soon we saw several cars appear in the parking lot, each with kids and parents and colorfully wrapped presents, and it was easily apparent that someone was having their birthday there. Believe it or not, that helped. If a ten year old can do it, man up.

After initially feeling jittery about the five minute harness and belay instructions (and to be honest, I didn't want to be responsible for my sister falling from a twenty five foot wall so I thought that fear was justifiable), it was great.

Initially we started in the intermediate section while the kids were scaling ten feet off the ground on the beginner's area (totally kicked their asses). And it was easily the best experience that I had in months. It was challenging and empowering with the weight of my body literally clinging to the tips of my fingers and the tip-toes of the climbing shoes. It's invigorating to reach the top of an area only to let go, lean back, and slowly descend to the ground by the ever trusted harness. For the first few hours, I felt invincible. Tom Cruise should have taken notes for his next Mission Impossible movie.

All felt well until I tried the simple looking rope climb near the corner. Remember rope climbing? I don't have fond memories, but I don't remember them being very hard. Maybe I grew up with knotted ropes, but after feeling like a rock climbing badass for an hour, I suddenly felt like Russell in the beginning of Up. It was hard. Again, I don't need to reiterate my lack of upper body strength, but mid-way through, I looked down at my sister and said that I was done. And then she mentioned the ten year olds who climbed to the top, and I felt semi-obligated to continue. Plus, I don't know if she would have lowered my harness anyway. In any case, after I reached somewhere between the near-top and top, I was spent. We climbed a few of the beginner's section, but in any route with even the slightest bit of difficulty, I couldn't do it. I felt like Mufasa in The Lion King, without the fall.

Around the time we were leaving, another party of even younger children arrived, and I suddenly had the utmost respect for the employees of the climbing center. There were only two of them. Only two people ran the cash registers, explained the liability forms, dispensed the equipment, checked the equipment, gave the center's tour, and explained how to use the caribeans and harnesses that would potentially save everyone's lives. And they did it all with five year olds and over protective parents. Those people were not just employees, but they were in it. They were passionate about promoting their sport and embracing their lifestyle and community. If you're ever in Arlington, Texas, please look past Six Flags, and the stadium, and the ball park, and check out dyno-rock climbing center for a great time; it's fun for all ages and well worth the trip.

Also, I thought it was funny how they struggled to find music for a party of ten year old girls. It went from Green Day's 'Jesus of Suburbia' to Joe Cocker's 'With a little help from my friends,' because that's more kid friendly, right?

For all intense purposes, it's arguable whether I've had something that's truly fueled my passion. I’ve had hobbies, and it’s debatable whether I’ve obsessed about a few girls back in the day, but I’ve never truly embraced a community or a cause that’s really meant something to someone. Someday, I’ll find it. Something that pulls my desire to stand for something or define my persona, but in the meantime, I’ll admire those who have it and enjoy the happiness in the pursuit of passion.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

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