“Could you go today?”
“Kindof a late start, but… yeah. Let’s do it.”
I hadn’t seen my friend Nick since I dropped him off at the Spokane airport in 2015. I was driving a UHaul to Seattle and he needed to catch a flight. Our conversation made us wish the drive were longer- neither of us can remember where he was going. Nick has always been one of the most spontaneous people I know; run 20 miles, read some poetry, cook a gourmet dinner, and get on an international flight? Just another day for Nick.
Abigail and I are counting down the days to welcome a new family member. I stopped climbing a few months ago. Falling off would be a really dumb reason to get injured and limit caring for an infant. My feet though, are still sturdy, and staying a little wild helps me grapple with the tectonic shift in my life. So I’ve been running. The Snowbowl to Stuart traverse is a standard affair for many Missoulians, but I had yet to make the trek. It was 10am, I suddenly had a strong partner, and as good a forecast as I was going to get.
We had a perfect day out. We trotted up the ski resort, chewing on 7 years of overdue conversation. Somehow the heat waited for us to top out, and a passing gentle rain squall did wonders as we traversed to Murphy. The terrain gets a little more scrappy and we played “does it go” scrambling back to Sanders. Nick spoke of writing and surprisingly burly east coast running from a stint in Massachusetts. I recapped my trip to Wyoming and the insecurities lurking in my impending parenthood.
Nick complimented me: “I love that you can push out these big runs, and big ideas”
“I think they are actually the same muscle.” I replied. Pushing my body into wild places seems to be the only way to clear out enough space to make sense of things.
I wrote about a liminal line in 2013, and the feeling still rings true. “Occupying a position on both sides of a boundary”- it is a state of transition. Between not being a parent, and being one. Between moving well in the mountains, and pushing too hard. Between making meaningful climate impact and respecting client contraints. Sometimes you push, sometimes you hold back. Sometimes you finish a thing with the sinking feeling you know you could have done more. Sometimes, the wheels come off and everything goes sideways.
I can’t wait to be a dad, and I am terrified to be a dad. Maybe if we are doing it right, we never stop walking the liminal line.
6,000ft gain/7,400ft loss