August 24, 2021

The Rocks

There is hope. The morning after pill, or Plan B, was cleared today by the Food and Drug Administration as an approved "over-the-counter" contraceptive pill for women over 18! (Under 18 you'll need a prescription, over 18 just proof of age). That rocks.

Now unto other rocks.

couples-08.jpg Red Rocks.

Last night I saw my first concert at Red Rocks in Colorado. It was, what I thought, a dream come true, because Ben Harper was playing Colorado while I happened to be visiting the state. I love his first four albums, and I used to have a huge crush on the man himself, and I couldn't wait to be in between all these beautiful, large red rocks listening to him perform. Truth is, he isn't great in large amphitheaters and Red Rocks happens to be just that. But, sitting there listening to him play made me think a lot about rocks, and their significance in the lives of the people in this part of Colorado. I grew up in a town called Plainview, which means exactly what it says. Here, in Colorado, there really isn't a plain view; it's more of a rocky mountain high.

That same morning, Jonny had taken me to climb his favorite rock, a place called Frog Rock in Evergreen, CO. Before getting to the rock, I had envisioned this small, but substantial rock, one that was easy to climb on, and would offer a great view. When we made the final steps towards the rock, I saw something completely different, and utterly mind blowing. I was walking towards one of the largest rocks I would ever climb (not as large as Ayers Rock in Australia, but you're not allowed to climb that anymore - and it's not called than anymore either)...and I was more than a little afraid. I thought Jonny was joking about climbing the rock until we got to the base of the thing. He started climbing up, telling me how to feel my way with the rock, how to trust myself and how I'd be just fine. And that's when I started crying. It was out of pure fear, but they were real tears. I made it halfway up the rock and had him stop. I had just looked up to see how much farther the trek was, when I noticed that the rock looked slick and smooth and way to vertical to climb. He was so good. He sat with me, until the mentality that I once had when forcing myself to make it to the top of Ayers rock after an unsuccessful attempt, kicked in. I had to make it -for him, and for me.

We started the climb once again, and eventually made it to the top. Of course by this time all I could worry about was how I'd make it back down, when I noticed a split in the rocks. "That's the other side of Frog Rock," Jonny explained to me. "It's a little harder to get to, but it has the better views." I wasn't sold. I mean, yeah I'm sure the views on the other side of the rock were nicer, but I was already thousands of feet above sea level, sitting on a large rock, with no climbing gear, and I wasn't about to make the jump over the chasm. While I wanted to see the view, I didn't want it to be the last view I saw. Of course my limber boyfriend needed to go. He left his cell phone with me, I thought it was just in case he never made it back, and he proceeded on his way. I watched him clear the one hurdle on the climb that I thought I couldn't do, and watched him disappear into the rock. So now, alone, I sat on top of this beautiful piece of rock, contemplating my cowardice.

It's not that I was a coward; I mean I made it to the top of the rock, but it's just that I didn't go that extra quarter mile. My mind had already decided against it, and then my body followed suit.

When he returned, which thankfully he did, we stayed up on the rock for a while, and once we were ready to get back down, I realized that it wasn't going to be as difficult as I had anticipated. There was still one spot that was challenging, but with careful planning I found my way to safety. I felt accomplished, and a bit unaccomplished, all at the same time.

So, I'm listening to Ben Harper, surrounded by these rocks, thinking about how they sort of terrify me. They're these big ominous creatures of the earth, and they have such a larger presence then we will ever be able to comprehend. They have lasted so much longer than we do, and they will outlast us all (at least some of them). I began to think about climbing these rocks. Actually now every time I look at a rock I'm afraid I'll have to climb it. (I won't and I didn't).

And I thought about how this journey had been filled with rocks. How nothing had been going quite as planned. While I had sort of conquered a tangible rock that day, there were always plenty of less tangible rocks out there to climb as well. Jonny and I are on a rocky road to self-awareness and discovery, and this trip hasn't been as easy as we had planned. I'm about to come home to a lot of new and exciting times in my life, and, in order to make things work well, I will need to be solid, like a rock. And sometimes I'm too much like a rock, too stubborn - shutting down, and refusing to be penetrated by other people’s thoughts or actions. Now, here I was, sitting between the rocks, listening to rock performed by a rock star.

We decided to head out of the show a little early to steer clear of traffic when one of my favorite Ben songs came on. We walked our way back up to the amphitheater to hear him sing, and after the song was over, decided to head back down. On the way down the rocks (it's a longish trail that cuts high over some of the rocks) we saw an ambulance and a bunch of gawkers. We were still a good 50-100 feet above "ground level" when I peered over the railing. Apparently some kid, just minutes before, the very minutes that we had decided to turn around and head back up to the show, had fallen over the railing at Red Rocks. I don't know if he was drunk or high - I sort of hope he was because it was a long fall - and he was sitting on a railing that no one should sit on, when he plunged over the edge. I heard others talking about how they saw him fall, and how he had landed with his head on the rocks. It was horrifying, devastating and utterly sad. I looked over the rail, and sure enough there was a boy, at this point already being placed on a gurney, with his arms folded across his body, and a towel over his head. When they picked him up I could see blood. We were stuck in small traffic as they life-flighted him out of the area. It was such a sad way to end the night, and in the background I could still hear Ben playing and crowds cheering. Ominous and eerie. That's how it felt.

I don't know if this kid lived or died, but my unoptimistic self doesn't know how he could have survived that fall. It was a long one. Head on, on the rocks.

But the rocks still stand. Because they are strong, hard and bold. And even if I'm not surrounded by physical rocks every day of my life, there is always a part of me that is surrounded by the proverbial rock. Perhaps there's a part of us all that's this way.

Posted by jamye at August 24, 2021 10:48 AM