some days are like a cold drink of water. a deep breath of air after it rains. most days I wake up and wish I could’ve just stayed asleep. but days like this, I’m glad I woke up for them.

grey morning. footsteps in a house still sleeping. biting cold of leather steering wheel. two cars full of people I don’t really know. somehow still comfortable. somehow not overwhelmed. bluetooth music, throwback pop to broadway musicals. no shame. coffee cup in my boot. dusting of snow on highways and cars and quiet roofs.

a gym that opens up to receive us, walls yawning and stretching and branching in the best way. feeling that giddy child wake up inside me, like someone’s pumping me full of carbonated bubbles. like a toddler in a candy store. bright blue, sharp white. rough texture on skin. new holds like pleasant sandpaper. rope spooling through fingers, higher and higher, clip after clip, feeling the jitters in my limbs as ten feet turns into twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, the overhang pushing me toward gravity’s embrace. adrenaline. I’ve missed adrenaline. feeling the pump build unexpectedly fast, forcing me to try harder. lowering, dangling. holy crap. landing yards away from where I began. a tiny tail of rope sits where a pile used to be.

we are all a little bit in awe of this place, and a lot a bit excited, to climb and flail and fall and fail and succeed and summit. the point is in the process, in the experience, not however high or hard the end point. I remember how I used to feel a kinship with people like this, people who share this kind of crazy, and the memory makes sense again. the longer I let myself enter into the moment, the less like an antisocial, angsty hermit I feel. I find that I actually can talk. laugh. the sound effects which used to be so much a part of my ridiculous personality make a brief reappearance. for these few hours, it’s not painful to be me. I am not constantly uncomfortable with just existing. I actually feel like I’m living. I feel like I can just be. I curl up in my flannel somewhere beneath the looming overhanging and alternate between dozing and watching people interact, climb, laugh, goof off. the empty space in my chest is still there, as I know it will be – I don’t expect it to be gone, when I’m still missing a piece of me – but in this moment, I can accept it as part of me. I am okay with being me. I. felt. happiness. today. no one but myself can understand what an enormous thing that is.

red hands, bruised toes, grumpy callouses, stinky feet, we all pile back into cars in the dark. pleasantly physically exhausted, feeling satisfied. as the tires and engine whir and a few errant flakes of snow drift down, I feel the sadness quietly begin to trickle back to fill me again. I knew it was going to come, I am ready for it. I try to continue the day’s trend of acceptance. I look up at the moon, so bright, spattering of craters clear in the sky. it’s a few days shy of being full. I am somehow comforted by the fact that when you look at the moon, we’re looking at the same one. it is a small connection, but still, it is something to hold on to.