The girl looked over at the boy sitting at the desk kitty corner to hers. “How hard could the Grouse Grind really be?” she asked.
The boy was a good person to ask, she thought, after all he was an ardent climber of said mountain, going at least once a week, oftentimes more. And the girl, who’d only just recently been taking more of an interest in her health had been toying with the idea. She’d been going to the gym for awhile now, had started referring to herself as Queen of the Stairmaster, and the Internet told her the Grouse Grind was nature’s stairmaster, so really, she was practically made for.
The boy paused. He looked up from the photos on his computer, let a smile form on his face, and asked, “Do you want to go? I’ll take you.”
That girl was me. That boy was Big Ring.
On July 2, 2005, Big Ring took me on my first climb up the Grouse Grind. We were just work buddies at the time. We enjoyed discussing celebrity gossip and teasing our fellow colleagues, but we hadn’t spent any time together outside our job. It was an innocent enough plan, there were no thoughts beyond a friendly get together, and yet, when I woke that morning, I dolled myself up with makeup, did my hair, and was honestly worried about how the rain (never mind the sweat) would affect my style. Yep, I was a total newbie!
Not even two minutes into the climb, I was cursing it: “Stairmaster my ass!” I was breathing so hard my lungs felt like they were gonna cave in; I was sure the sweat pouring off my face was tinged black from mascara; my legs were throbbing by the second quarter; and by the third I was giving real thought of flinging myself over the side of the mountain thinking it easier to get an air ambulance than to finish that murder of a hill.
I loathed that climb. I loathed the people around me, the slower people, the faster people, the talkers, the runners, the flip flop wearing girls, and the grocery bag carrying guys. I loathed the trees, the rocky terrain, the ropes, and the slippery steps. And if it weren’t for Big Ring’s super smooth, super tanned, super shaved, cycling legs, I probably would have loathed him too. (What can I say, I’m a legs girl!)
I don’t remember exactly how long that climb took, but I do remember, between my bouts of wheezing and gasping, discussing TomKat, lamenting the War of the Worlds remake, and plotting ways of offing Dakota Fanning. I remember thinking “Will this never end?” And I remember promising my body that if it got me through the hurt, I would never, EVER put it through such torture again – EVER!
Eight years ago today, I climbed that mountain for the first time; I have climbed it countless times since with a man who started out my work buddy and became my husband (he proposed to me at the top of the mountain 4 years later!), the father of my child, my best friend, my strongest, most devout cheerleader. My love!
Happy first date/non-date anniversary Big Ring!!!