All I heard was laughter as the rope was shooting down and lowering me fast to the ground. What are they laughing at and could it be me I thought... Are you brave or afraid? That's the motto that kept running through my mind when approaching the red wall. It was a monday when I walked into the humid back gym of Maine South High School. I am 17 and this is where I attend school. I could still smell the food that lingered from the cafeteria. The gym was filled with a lot of lights and students piled around. The gym was medium sized, enough room for basketball hoops and a small rock climbing wall. All our backpacks rested against a lonely wall in the corner. Colors from the floor and the rock wall brightened the room. I could hear the sounds of feet pounding against the ground trying to step into their harnesses. The class was Adventure Ed, it was the P.E. class I had chosen for the year. In this class though there are certain requirements us students had to fulfil. That is crate stacking where we are attached to a rope and stack shakey crates underneath us to see how many we can get, repelling when we climb up a ladder to a surface attaching yourself to your own ropes and rappelling yourself down the wall we just went up, and climbing the wall with a bunch of different holds and routes to reach the top where we smack a bell. We have to do all these things until we get enough points and do each thing a certain amount of times in order to pass. This process took quite a while and certainly was stressful. Are you brave or afraid? Turned out to be everybody's motto.
For me though it turned out to be nature. Feeling the rough texture of the wall in my bare hands could make any of my bad days good. Climbing the wall and being in the air sort of flowed with me in a way, but not on this certain day. It surely had broke the bond that I had made with the wall and the adventure ed life. For others though it didn't turn out so easily as it did for me. The fear of the wall filled their minds. We each had groups and my particular one was called Waka Flocka Africa. We picked this name because we got assigned a mountain that was in Africa so we had to come up with a name to go with it. Two of the people in my group would refuse to climb the wall. It took a big push to get them up there because they were terrified of heights. The sound of complaints were voiced all around us. In particular I am good friends with the girl in my group so I tried talking her into crate stacking, when it was finally her turn. I said,
“Don't be afraid you don't have to go that far up and we got you locked in so you're safe”.
It took a bit more convincing but we finally got her up there and eventually completed her crate stacks. For the guy in my group that was scared we had a bad incident on the repel wall. He climbed up the ladder just fine and he was sitting on the edge of the ledge. He yelled down to us,
“I don't think I can stand up i'm too scared to do it”.
This process took us a full twenty minutes to finally get him down. My teacher had to even stand on a ladder across from him to try and coax him down. She would say,
“Just take a deep breath stand up and take you foot off the ledge it's all easy from there.”
My teacher is good at that, making everyone more calm and she's always there for you. It was finally my day to climb the way to earn some points. I was pumped, filled with energy to pursue my climb. I didn't think my appearance that day would be a big deal, but I turned out to be totally wrong. I had a grey large shirt on that was so big and comfy, accompanied with black loose leggings that were stretchy. My friend from a different group came over with her harness because she was going to belay me.
For those of you that don't know the belayer is the one that works the rope for you and make sure you don't fall. We got a backup belayer from my group and an anchor for the belayer also from my group and we were all set. I got all set up and placed in my harness and just looked up. I decided to climb in the chimney part today so it was pretty tight. I can see the bright red bell shining down on me from the big red wall in front of me. I grabbed the first yellow hold and thought are you brave or are you afraid. From that moment on my brain went on auto pilot mode. It knew exactly what to do and I wasn't afraid at all. Hoisting my body up I grab a blue hold then yellow then blue again. My sweaty hands just gripping the sturdy rocks climbing higher and higher.
I'm trying to work fast to take control over the wall. It's a tricky route but I love the challenge. Gust of wind from my movements would hit my face. Im halfway up the large wall and my shoulders were started to grow weak. I pushed past the pain and kept going. My hand reached out and boom! I hit the red bell as hard as I could.
“Yes!” I screamed loud knowing that i had just made it to the top. All I heard was laughter as the rope was shooting down and lowering me fast to the ground. What are they laughing at and could it be me I thought. My stomach started to shift and for some reason I did not feel like coming down. I wish the rope wouldn't stop so I would be coming down forever. Suspense took over my mind and then I finally put my feet on the ground and back to reality. The laughter filled all in around me. Red was the color of the wall and the color of the bell and in this moment was also the color of my face.
“Catie you might want to get a better pair of legging” said one girl the next one shouts,
“Yeah we could see everything”. In that moment I realized they had really saw everything. So I asked the most obvious question there was,
“You all saw my butt?” and the laughter fills in again with everyone saying,
“Yes we saw your butt”. From that moment on I wanted to cry. I felt the cold tear appear and quickly wiped it with my sweaty hand. I never wanted to show my face again and I just wanted to hide. Suddenly everything felt numb. All the noises just seemed to fade away. I left immediately and I have never felt so embarrassed. I couldn't stand to see the awful looks on everyone's face. I couldn't bare the thought of them talking about me and what had just happened. Practically the whole class had seen my butt and were laughing at me. It was a day of pure embarrassment. The feeling of everyone laughing at you is the worst. Are you brave or afraid? My answer to that now has never been more afraid. After that day I have not climbed the wall since and I remain, Afraid.