On Belay

By Rachael Button

April 16, 2018

On Belay

When I climb, my husband catches me. Peter is younger than me, lankier, quieter. His body weaves up rock with a grace my shaky, short frame cannot yet settle into--but he’s learned not to correct or coach me. Instead he holds me on belay, he catches me when I fall, and when he lowers me back down to the ground, I ask him what he noticed about my climb. 

It’s an act of trust: to anchor yourself to someone—an act of trust to struggle in front of your partner. When Peter and I met, we found common ground in shared stamina, in the hundreds of miles we walked, hiked, and ran together. But now, after five years together, after planning a wedding together, making a home together, cooking hundreds of meals together, after working together, teaching together, and planning class curriculum together, after watching each other in transition and shifting the shape of our lives together—Peter and I are beginning to know our shared and separate struggles. And we are learning how to stay on the other end of the rope, to keep our hands on the brake line, to catch each other. 

It’s still scary: to lean into the rock, to reach for a hold, to shift upward and let one arm or leg take more of the weight, but when I climb, I remind myself that Peter is ready to catch me if I slip. I unfurl sweaty fingers, breathe in, and ascend toward my anchor.

Comments (6) - Post a Comment
Yes, this is how it is and should be, this supporting and leaning and trust and allowance.
Jan Priddy at 9:50am EDT - April 16, 2018
Wonderfully rendered, the process and the metaphor. Love the visual inversion created in my mind's eye by the final line: "ascend toward my anchor"—unexpected and inspiring!
Laurie Klein at 11:17am EDT - April 16, 2018
Oh, I love this, both the writing and the metaphor itself. Lovely.
Sarah Marty-Schlipf at 2:04pm EDT - April 16, 2018
Yes, this piece is a beautiful thing, and a timely reminder of the best of what we can be for each other.
Eudora Watson at 3:26pm EDT - April 16, 2018
Thumbs up
Autumn Shah at 6:13am EDT - April 17, 2018
This was so interesting, and life-affirming, and I love the unexpected surprise of "ascend to my anchor."
Joanne Glenn at 10:08am EDT - April 17, 2018

Post A Comment

Name: (*Required)
Email: (*Required)
- Not Displayed With Comment

« Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow