Faye and I left yesterday to begin our drive to West Virginia. After getting a haircut, visiting a friend, and a couple of other distractions, we were on our way. When we arrived at a toll booth in New Jersey, I paid with a ten-dollar bill and some change, which included some pennies. The toll operator simply looked down at her hand, and said only, “Pennies.” At this point my initial reaction was to say something along the lines of, “Yeah, last time I checked they were still legal tender.” But instead it made me think quickly about two different discussions I’ve had with different people.
The first was a discussion with my friends Emily and Michael about strangers commenting on my tattoos. Strangers would always come up to me and say something along the lines of, “Wow, that’s a colorful tattoo.” And initially I would feel good, and say, “Thanks!” But I quickly realized that they weren’t necessarily giving me a compliment. They were just making an observation. It would be no different if they said, “Gee, you have hair.” So I started responding simply by saying, “Yeah!” or “It is!” or even sometimes, “That’s an observation!”
The other conversation was with my friend Tim. He works in retail and always has some funny stories about asshole customers. One of his pet peeves is when people just walk in and without saying anything else, just state the item they are looking for. “Socks.” Often times they had to walk right past the display of the item they were desperately seeking just to shout nouns at him. The last time I was visiting him at his store, I witnessed such an exchange. We were talking behind the checkout counter and a man walks in. Tim addressed him and asked him how his day was. “Washroom.” I couldn’t help but laugh instantly.
So when the toll collector simply said, “Pennies,” I wasn’t sure how to respond. She wasn’t asking me a question. Or even making a comment. She was simply making an observation. I, however, detected a disapproving tone to her bisyllabic findings. So when she handed me my change, I also made an observation. “Bills,” I said. Faye immediately started laughing. As I drove away, I’m pretty sure the woman called me an idiot.
A few days ago we climbed at Rumney. We hoofed it all the way up to the Hinterlands. I wasn’t climbing very well, and didn’t feel all that great either. I fell on some 10as, which I thought I should have been able to onsight or flash. I still hadn’t made it over to the left side of the wall to attempt Jolt, a super classic 5.10a. I thought about leaving it for another day. It would give me a reason to come back to the Hinterlands. Plus, I wanted to onsight it, and I clearly wasn’t climbing well that day. Climbing in general at Rumney has been fairly frustrating since coming back from Wyoming. The style is so different, and I’ve been struggling with grades that came really easily to me out west. I decided to give Jolt a try, after Faye and I did a fun 5.6 that gave me the opportunity to take a break and relax a little.
Jolt is a super airy, wildly exposed route that has this fin of schist jutting out at eighty feet off the deck. There is quite a bit of smearing and underclinging while overlooking the entire valley. A fall from the fin would mean catching some air, and probably having a hard time getting back onto the wall. The climb felt really natural for me. All the holds were there, and the moves were difficult, but not impossible. I made it to the anchors on my onsight attempt, and then mantled up on top of the fin to catch my breath and enjoy the views. Jolt is definitely my new favorite climb at Rumney, and one of the best I’ve ever done. It was so much fun, it made me really excited for our trip to West Virginia. It also renewed some of my feelings towards climbing which had been dulled by the shitty New England weather as of late. I’m hoping to find some climbs on this upcoming trip that inspire me in the same ways.