Cartoon from XKCD (Best cartoon site ever. Don’t argue with me.)
That summer found me a sophomore in college taking classes (compulsive me, remember?), working three jobs (computer lab consultant, Chinese restaurant waitress and catering waitress), living in the crappiest apartment ever (it had a hole the size of a plate in the front exterior wall that we covered with a hubcap we found across the street) and no car. Best summer of my life! Why? Because every free second I had was spent up in the Rocky Mountains rock climbing with my best friends. As long as there was daylight in the canyon we were tethered to a rock face and when the sun set it was tent camping, midnight hikes, bonfires and whatever food I’d managed to scrounge from my waitressing gigs. We rarely slept, we never showered – isn’t that the definition of awesome?
That was the summer I was free rappelling down a 100-foot cliff, got my waist-length braid stuck in the figure 8 and had to hang in space for half an hour waiting for my friends to hike up to the top and lower me a pocket knife in a shoe so I could give myself the worst one-handed haircut ever while trying not to plummet to my death.
That was the summer we wallpapered our ugly apartment with multicolored butcher paper, taped three boxes of tinfoil to the ceiling, covered the whole mess – walls, ceiling, door frames -with multicolored Christmas lights and topped it off with a disco ball. It was every bit as horrendous as you are imagining. Probably worse.
That was the summer I went to a party on an island in the middle of a lake to which the directions included the bizarrely accurate imperative “Turn left at the goat in the road” followed by “Signal with you flashlight and we’ll send the canoe over.”
That was the summer I waited on the same elderly “sunbird” couple, who never tipped, every single day and the last day of their vacation the man told me with tears in his eyes that I was like family to them as he slipped a folded bill into my hand. It was $5.
That was the summer I rode on a bullet bike going 80 miles an hour through a canyon known for its mortality rate. Sans helmet. And I’ve never felt more free before or since. (For the record I would never do it again and it scares the crap out of me to think that one of my kids might attempt something similarly idiotic someday.)
The summer ended when my boyfriend proposed to me – while rock climbing, naturally – and I said no and gave him back the ring and he asked me again and I said no again and then we had a huge fight culminating with him throwing the ring (and some other stuff) at me which sadly broke up our little merry bad of hygiene-challenged mountaineers.
I kept the braid. I kept the ring. I kept every minute of that summer etched into the memory of my body. The sunlight is burnt into my skin, the cool slippery rock face still rough under my fingertips, the slick coating of chili out of a can lines my throat, the lyrics to every Sublime song just behind the tip of my tongue (okay, and a lot of Scorpion songs too – some of my friends had terrible taste in music). Someday, I’m going to be the grandma in the old folks’ home yelling “I said belay on!!” at the orderly before hitting him with a rock.
One great summer. Everyone has one. I’ve shared mine with you, now I want to hear all about yours!
PlanetGear.com – a site dedicated to bringing you the best outdoor and sport brands at the lowest prices as well as discounted travel destinations – is all about helping you have an epic summer (or winter). They are offering one GFE reader a $50 giftcard to help make some outdoor memories. They run like Steepandcheap and Gilt, in that they have one crazy blowout mega sale for a few days and then that stuff is gone and they’re on to the next. Today, for instance, through midnight on May17th you can buy gear from Kelty and winter outerwear from Rossignol for less than half the sticker price. Then starting at midnight on the 17th they’ll have shoes and apparel (both men and women) from K-Swiss. Right now, when you refer a friend they get a $10 credit and you get a $10 credit so it’s a win-win!
To enter leave me a comment telling me something you like from the Planet Gear site. For a second entry, like them on Facebook and leave me a separate comment. For a third entry (and one I hope you’ll do whether or not you are entering the contest!) tell me a story about your One Great Summer! I want to hear it all!! Anyone is eligible to enter this giveaway. Giveaway ends Saturday May 21st at midnight. (FTC: I did not receive any free stuff – seriously, I know! – nor am I being compensated in any way for this post.)
Check in tomorrow for another great giveaway!!