I Am an Independent Traveler, I Don’t Need No Boyfriend

When I initially reached out to my friend Brandon to go spend spring break with me it was a spur of the moment, what-human-will-drop-what-they’re-doing-and-go-adventuring-with-me, and I-desperately-need-a-vacation sort of thing. We’d talked, worked out, run into each other at crags, and side hugged at parties and at the gym, primarily bonding after the Nov 8 election results as he passionately discussed politics while I aggressively scribbled notes to congressmen. In retrospect I have no idea what made me think of him other than I knew he was passionate about climbing and would be down to go boulder. And so, after sending him ten text messages in a row about how great Red Rock, Nevada would be, he agreed to get the time off work.

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I had gone on trips without my boyfriend before, often relying on his friends to help me out, or casual daytrips with girlfriends between work and school. This was the first time I had planned an entire trip relatively alone. I found my own partner (independent of my boyfriend), booked plane tickets, AirBnB reservations, etc.. I was made of anxiety, and I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

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Brandon took care of his side of the trip duties and when plans fell through we worked together to come up with solutions. He reminded me to put on sunscreen and left me in the shade to go look for his projects so I wouldn’t die from the heat. He tried v7 boulders and steered me in the direction of Clam Bumper, a v4 vertical boulder face with crimps after we realized that was my prefered climbing style. We spent days scrambling up everything between v0-v3. We swapped photo duty whenever we felt comfortable that the other person wasn’t about to eat shit.

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I’m not the most outgoing person. Planning this trip, taking initiative, and forcing myself to not get too caught up in grades was no easy task. I missed my boyfriend and a part of me certainly wishes we could’ve gone together, but reminding myself of my independence was far more rejuvenating than following him up a five mile approach to get to some scary multipitch would’ve been. I didn’t cry once.

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While in Red Rock, I topped out more boulders than ever in a single day. I tried incredibly hard on moves I didn’t think I could do. I regained confidence in myself. Not just by climbing for four days in a row, but by making this trip happen for me, by making sure that my spring break would not be wasted sitting around in Atlanta or by waiting around for my boyfriend to take me climbing.

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Yes, aspects of this trip were scary. I had no idea what I was getting into in terms of a climbing partner, and maybe I lucked out, or maybe I’m just overly paranoid from weird high school experiences and too much CSI. No matter. While I’ll still probably default to my boyfriend, I have now broken the cycle. I have introduced myself to a new method of adventure. One that is formed and dedicated to myself (and kind of whoever is with me). A significant other, no matter how wonderful they may be, is not necessary for an amazing trip. I am a climber, even when my boyfriend isn’t around, and this trip was definitely a reminder of that.

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