I used to sit in my lonely Fresno apartment and pray for friends, sometimes weeping.
Transplanted from Oregon for my job, I found my new home strange and unwelcoming. I enjoy spending time alone, but a person can only take so much isolation before she starts to feel abandoned, unwanted, forgotten.
Fresno is a difficult place to live if you’re not from here. It almost feels like high school. A cliquish, conservative, scary high school. Some parts of town are so gang-infested and dangerous I wouldn’t want to drive through them. North Fresno, the new part of town, is known for more of an upscale-yuppie attitude, and that is at odds with my down-to-earth Oregonian heart too.
A mix of criminal and funky is called the Tower District, where a few restaurant-bars are clustered. I used to go dancing there; I am a house music fiend. But the drugged lust of the people in the crowd became too much to tolerate. Fresno has skanks of magnificent proportion. Whatever you want to do, just as long as it doesn’t involve me. But after one too many episodes of skanks of either sex trying to hump my leg like inebriated dogs in heat, I quit going out.
So I remained alone, reading, painting, watching TV, doing yoga and praying.
The wheels of heaven turned slowly, but the response to my pleas was pure quality.
At first, I thought it was just a physical puzzle to figure out how to move vertically. But it has fed every part of my being – body, mind and soul – as well as giving me one of the best gifts of my life: friendship.
When I go to the gym, I always see someone who has become dear to me. Several of my gym buddies have become my outdoor partners.
And my website has brought me friends in other parts of California, the rest of the nation and the vaster world. I’ve had offers to climb around the country.
Hell, climbing has even made Fresno seem, well, better than tolerable though it remains strange to me. But the highways that crisscross this city lead to many climbing havens. Two hours: Yosemite Valley. Six hours: The East Side (of the Sierra). Three hours: coastal climbing. Southern California – I don’t even know. But I have invitations to find out.
Next prayer: the time and money to climb with my new friends. It’s gonna happen. Heaven answers, shining bits of its glory into this rocky world.
For more from Sarah Jane Alexander visit her website: time2climb.com
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